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Japanese Falls For Alcohol – Free Beer

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Sales of the world’s first beer that is completely alcohol free have rocketed in Japan, with Kirin Brewery Co. forced to ramp up production to meet demand for its “Kirin Free.”

Sales of the world’s first beer that is completely alcohol free have rocketed in Japan, with Kirin Brewery Co. forced to ramp up production to meet demand for its “Kirin Free.”

Launched in April, when it was described as the only beer in the world with 0.00 percent alcohol, expectations were initially modest for a brew in a nation which famously enjoys a drink or two.

Kirin – one of Japan’s “Big Four” brewers – originally set an annual sales target of 630,000 cases of the new beer, each case containing the equivalent of 20 633-mililiter bottles. That estimate was quickly raised to 2.5 million cases, but on Tuesday the brewer again hiked the figure to 3.5 million cases.

“We have been really pleasantly surprised by the demand from Japanese consumers, but we do think the new drink meets people’s needs nowadays,” Kumi Nakano, a spokeswoman for Kirin, .

The company has even been obliged to run full-page adverts in daily newspapers apologising to consumers for shortages of the drink due to its unexpected popularity.    “There are many reasons why people are choosing to drink Kirin Free,” Nakano said. “Many people do not much like the effects of alcohol but still like the taste of beer, so this is perfect for them, while other people feel obliged to drink after work with their colleagues and do not want to drink alcohol.”

Another reason the company has identified for the trend towards no-alcohol beer is a police crackdown in recent years on drunk-driving.

Pregnant women also apparently like the brew, while it also does not hurt that it is cheaper than regular beer. A 350-mililiter can of Kirin Free costs about Y150 (€1.14), while a competitor charges around Y220 (€1.68) for a can of the same size.

Since the launch of Kirin Free – and its runaway success – Japan’s other big brewers have jumped on the alcohol-free bandwagon.

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Thursday, August 17, 1:45 am

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