Japan’s ‘liver rest days’ boost no-alcohol beers
His social life severely curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, Tadasu Masuda found himself embracing the opportunity to take what in Japan are known as “liver rest days” and try out a range of alcohol-free beer brands. They tasted much better than he expected, and while Masuda is not giving up on regular beer, he’s now committed to the occasional break.
“I want to keep drinking these and make sure my liver gets days off,” said the civil servant who lives in Kobe, western Japan, adding that he has become more health conscious since recently entering middle age. The pandemic is propelling an unexpected boom in alcohol-free beer that has Asahi Group Holdings forecasting a 20% jump in revenue for non and low alcoholic beer this year after flat sales in 2020. Asahi is also debuting a new “Beery” label and has plans to expand its line-up. Main rival Kirin Holdings, which had a head start in the category, expects its sales volumes in the segment to jump 23% this year after a 10% rise in 2020 and recently revamped one of its main non-alcoholic beers. Increased time at home, according to industry executives, has freed Japanese drinkers from social norms where beers with workmates often see a round of the same lager ordered for everyone – a change that has also helped lift sales of spirits and high-proof cocktails.
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