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Food & Beverage

Japanese brewers shift focus to offset coronavirus damage

Kirin to launch sugar-free beer, while Sapporo goes online

Kirin Holdings plans to roll out Japan's first sugar-free beer in October. (Source photo by Kirin and Takaki Kashiwabara)

TOKYO -- Japanese brewers are trying to adjust to the coronavirus-ravaged landscape by developing healthier drinks and supporting the restaurant industry through e-commerce in hopes of boosting earnings.

Total beer sales in Japan, including retail and from the food service industry, is expected to fall by 20% this year to $28 billion from 2019, according to an estimate by Euromonitor International. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, the market for regular brews shrank in 2019 for the 15th straight year.

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