Japan wants its sober youth to drink more alcohol

for Tv47 Digital August 19, 2022, 10:35 AM
Japan alcohol young consumers
Female customers toast with beer at a restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, August 29, 2017. PHOTO/REUTERS

There’s always a trade-off between improving a country’s health and its national income. Japan’s tax agency, fretting about falling revenue, is trying to plump up receipts by encouraging younger people to drink more alcohol.

The move underlines the headache brewers like $18 billion Asahi face in their home market; small wonder boss Atsushi Katsuki is eyeing North America. Yet previous overseas adventures by the beer giant and its rivals can make for sobering reading.

Katsuki told Reuters in an Aug. 18 interview that he would consider buying North American brands or working with start-ups. That makes sense. The maker of Peroni, Victoria Bitter and Asahi Super Dry saw sales at home slip 3% in 2021 while its overseas business grew 18% on a constant currency basis.

Asahi and its compatriots have long struggled with selling more to Japan’s ageing population, a challenge exacerbated by the more recent trend of young people boozing less than their parents. Average alcohol intake per adult has dropped from 100 litres per year in 1995 to 75 litres in 2020.

That has prompted some regrettable stumbles overseas, especially by Asahi’s rival Kirin. The company recently exited read more a Myanmar joint venture with a military-linked partner after the country’s generals took power in 2021. 

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