Asahi Breweries Ltd said Friday it expected a sharp rise in sales of low-malt beer as recession-hit consumers drown their sorrows with cheap suds.
Japan taxes beer based on malt content, meaning lower prices at the cash register for low-malt beer or beer-like drinks made of beans, corn or other produce.
Asahi Breweries said it aims to sell over 30% more of its Style Free low-malt beer in 2009 compared with last year and over 40 percent more of its Clear Asahi, which is made with barley and spirits.
While expecting to sell more of such second-grade beer, Asahi forecast the sales of its flagship Asahi Super Dry will fall slightly by 2.2%.
"The company will strengthen the competitiveness of conventional brands, mainly Super Dry, while trying to expand the market by proposing innovative drink products," the company said in a statement.
The company expects its total beer sales to grow by 0.8% this year from 2008.
Asahi also said it will expand its alcohol and non-alcohol businesses overseas, mainly in China and Australia.
Asahi last month announced plan to buy Schweppes Australia, the country's second largest non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverages business, from British confectionery maker Cadbury.© Wire reports