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Kirin lifts carb-free 'happoshu' sales target

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Kirin Brewery Co said Tuesday it has raised its annual sales target of carbohydrate-free "happoshu" low-malt beer-like beverage Kirin Zero to six million cases from the earlier planned four million because of brisk sales.

Sales of Kirin Zero, launched in February, are expected to reach two million cases by the end of this month. Asahi Breweries Ltd's Style Free is currently leading the carb-free happoshu market with an annual sales target of 10 million cases.

Between January and March, overall shipments of beer and quasi beer dropped 2.6% from the same period last year due to price hikes at major beer makers.

But sales of happoshu that are low-carb or have reduced calories are strong, capturing a 45% share of the happoshu market, equivalent to a 10% share in the overall beer and quasi beer market. The strong showing is thanks to the increasing health-consciousness of consumers.

Competition among carb-free happoshus, which contain less than 0.5 gram of carbohydrate per 100 milliliters, is intensifying, with new products Zero Nama made by Suntory Ltd. and Viva! Life from Sapporo Breweries Ltd launched in the past two months.

© JCN

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