Suntory Holdings, Japan’s third largest brewing company and the world third largest spirits company, anounced today to enter the U.S. beer market with its All-Free nonalcoholic beer. The sale will start in late July through e-commerce channels like Amazon but will be extended to brick-and-mortar stores at a later stage. Suntory hopes to sell 15,000 cases per month by the end of the year and to reach annual sales of 1.5 million cases after three to five years.
If successful, the Japanese beverage maker will continue to roll out the product to other markets. The company "expects positive ripple effects on markets in other countries." Suntory said in a statement on Friday.
The U.S. market is of great importance to Suntory since the company bought in 2014 Beam Inc. for for a final cost of about USD 16 billion. The renamed subsidiary "Beam Suntory” has its headquarter in Chicago, Illinois.
Suntory’s non-alcoholic beers will compete mainly with brews from AB InBev, which controls 56.1 % of the U.S. nonalcoholic beer market according to data from Euromonitor. Heineken 0.0, which was launched early last year and is one of the few imported, fast-growing brands in the U.S has already captured 7.2% of the market in 2019.
Non-alcoholic beer is one of the few segments in the U.S. beer market which continues to grow. Last year, the market rose by 14.5% in volume terms. "The number of consumers unwilling to drink alcohol, or who are becoming more health-conscious, is increasing," Suntory said in the statement.
Like the other Japanese brewers, Suntory tries to escape the ageing and ailing beer market in Japan by expanding overseas. While the other two leading brewers in Japan, Kirin and Asahi, still fight a battle for the Australian beer market (inside.beer, 19.7.2019), Kirin already withdrew from the Brazilian market when it sold in 2017 Brasil Kirin to Heineken (inside.beer, 20.01.2017) after struggling 6 years to find a way to conquer this market. Asahi on the other side is still trying to stabilize its beer business in the UK (inside.beer, 5.2.2019) and Eastern Europe (inside.beer, 13.12.2016).