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Low-alcohol drinks target homebodies

TOKYO >> Major alcohol producers in Japan are introducing products with low alcohol content in an effort to meet the needs of consumers concerned about over-drinking at home during the pandemic.

In June, Asahi Breweries Ltd. launched its Beery line of beer-style beverages with 0.5% alcohol nationwide. The line has drawn interest from customers in their 20s and 30s.

In July, Sapporo Breweries Ltd. released The Drafty, a beer-inspired beverage with 0.7% alcohol.

In the wine world, Mercian Corp. has created low-alcohol wines. In August the company planned to release a Bon Rouge red with 6% alcohol, about half the alcohol in traditional wines.

The domestic market for low-alcohol beverages is growing. Sales totaled more than $3.8 billion last year, up about 70% from 2013.

In 2013 the World Health Organization set a goal for member states to reduce the harmful use of alcohol by at least 10%. Meanwhile, the “sober curious” lifestyle movement among young people in the West epitomizes a growing shift away from alcohol consumption.

In March 2016 Japan’s Cabinet approved a basic plan to tackle alcohol-related harm. The plan urges producers to display alcohol content on containers, and the nation’s four beer giants — Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory — are displaying grams of alcohol in their main products.

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