Bad market hikes Japanese beer prices

Prices of major Japanese beers are on the rise, part of a national trend toward increasing prices of numerous drinks and foods in a market with decreasing demand.

Japan's beer production in the first six months of the year fell to the lowest level since record-keeping began in 1992.

Close on the heels of price-hike announcements by Sapporo Holdings Ltd. and Asahi Breweries Ltd., Japan's No. 1 brewer Kirin Holdings Co. said it will raise beer prices for the first time in 17 years to cover the higher cost of brewing malt and aluminum cans.

Prices will rise for regular, low-malt and other beer products on Feb. 1, the company said in a statement without specifying the increase.

The price of malt has more than doubled and aluminum has risen about 30% in the past year, Kirin officials said. Japan's producers of food and beverages have been passing rising energy and materials costs to consumers as falling wages and an aging of the population cut demand.

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