By The Financial District
Booze Price Hikes Worry Bar Owners As Japan Reopens
For Kazuo Tachibana, a liquor store owner in Yokohama, the recent widespread price hike on alcohol looks like delivering another blow to a business already taking knocks.
Photo Insert: Asahi was the first to promise rises of 7 to 17 percent on 162 products in April, which means a 350-milliliter can of Asahi Super Dry at a convenience store has gone from roughly 219 yen to about 230 to 240 yen.
"Customer spending has fallen from earlier this year, and many people seem much more hesitant to shop," the 81-year-old said before thousands of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages became dearer by an average of 4 to 13 percent, including the first canned beer price rises in 14 years, on Oct. 1, Mainichi Shimbun reported.
Japan's four major brewers -- Asahi Breweries Ltd., Kirin Holdings Co., Suntory Holdings Ltd., and Sapporo Breweries Ltd. -- and many other smaller outfits have upped asking prices on beverages over increasing input costs as inflation rises in Japan.
Besides familiar factors like rising wheat costs caused by the war in Ukraine, a major exporter of the grain, the jump has been triggered by price hikes on materials like aluminum for cans and higher transportation costs, brewers said.
For consumers, that means almost all alcoholic options are more expensive than they were. According to a Teikoku Databank survey the same day, 105 major food producers slapped an average 16 percent increase on 6,699 products, with 2,991 of them -- 40 percent -- drinks of the hard and soft varieties.
The price hikes so far in 2022 would cost the average household an extra 70,000 yen ($483) annually if they made the same purchases, a separate Teikoku Databank estimate suggests.
Asahi was the first to promise rises of 7 to 17 percent on 162 products in April, which means a 350-milliliter can of Asahi Super Dry at a convenience store has gone from roughly 219 yen to about 230 to 240 yen.
The three other big alcohol firms followed suit, as did smaller companies like Yoho Brewing Co., maker of the Yona Yona Pale Ale brand, which slapped 10 percent hikes on almost all of its products, and sake brewers such as Hakutsuru Sake Brewing Co., 150 of whose products are now 5 to 10 percent costlier.
But with consumers set to feel the pinch, a survey by Kaku Labo, the market research arm of alcohol seller Kakuyasu, shows drinkers are split on whether they will cut back in response, Kyodo News also reported.
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