Insight: Aluminum costs push Japan’s brewers to put new beer in new bottles

From relatively traditional roots, the Japanese beer industry became a hotbed of innovation in 2018. For over 100 years, legislation dictated that beer had to contain 67% malt, with the balance of 33% strictly water, hops, yeast, corn, rice, or more malt. But a revision of the country’s alcohol laws – or “Shuzei ho” – which went into effect April 2018, allowed breweries to introduce a new gamut of flavors, including potato, fruit and spices. The revised legislation has also allowed the malt content in beer to be lowered to 50% from the earlier 67%. The legislation opened ways to reduce input costs and create more innovative product lines offering new and different drinking experiences. With brewers facing a challenging domestic market due to Japan’s declining population, they quickly embraced the opportunity. Products with fewer calories, less sugar and purine soon sprouted, as well as beer-tasting beverages with no alcohol, appealing to the health-conscious. One liquor store owner said they were satisfied with the resulting sales. Instead of detracting from real beer sales, he said non-alcoholic “virtual beer” was contributing to sales of its more potent counterpart. “After giving their liver a break with virtual beer, customers go back to… continue reading

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