Asahi recently announced its FY2023 nine-month financial results ending September 2023, reporting 6.1% growth in revenue year-on-year to JPY2.02tn (US$13.3bn) and 8.6% growth in core operating profit year-on-year to JPY199.6bn (US$1.32bn).
A substantial part of this was attributed to pricing increases, according to Asahi President and CEO Atsushi Katsuki.
“The steady growth in our revenue and profit can be] mainly attributed to sustained unit sales price increases driven by price revisions and premiumisation,” he told investors at the firm’s most recent financial results briefing.
“We continue to observe substantial unit sales price improvements in each region – In particular, our unit sales price for beer-type beverages grew +9.5% in Japan and +15.6% in Europe.
“Although we are not optimistic about our business conditions amidst the backdrop of large cost increases and changes in consumer trends, the Asahi Group continues to invest in its brands to maintain and expand our competitive advantages in each region.”
Despite these less-than-optimistic observations, Katsuki also highlighted that the impressive performance by the firm’s Asahi Super Dry product has resulted in significant sales growth in various international markets.
“Asahi Super Dry saw a +37% year-on-year growth in sales volumes, mainly due to sales expansion in the major markets of Asia (other than Japan), Europe and Oceania,” he said.
“We will continue to accelerate the brand’s growth through sports partnerships and other initiatives on a global scale.
“We still aim to achieve 6.0% growth in revenue and 3.2% growth in core operating profit [for the whole] FY2023.”
Stronger-than-expected recovery of beer-type beverages in domestic on-premise sales was also cited as a contributing factor towards the strong performance.
There can also be no doubt that Asahi is feeling the impacts of inflationary pressures and cost increases in the current climate, as it has already had to make a significant adjustment to one of its major operational milestones as a result.
“Asahi [has] decided to postpone the commencement of operations at the Asahi Breweries Tosu Brewery from 2026 to 2029, due to higher than anticipated construction and facility costs,” the firm announced via a separate statement.
“Simultaneously, we confirm that the Asahi Breweries Hakata Brewery, initially scheduled to cease operations in 2025, will continue its activities for an extended period because of the delay with the Tosu Brewery.
“As of now, the future plans for the Hakata Brewery location after its eventual discontinuation are yet to be determined.”
The firm had announced an investment of some JPY49.1bn (US$352.3mn) to relocate its Hakata Brewery to Tosu last year, with the aim of improving operational sustainability upon its 2026 operational commencement, and was still holding firm to these plans earlier this year.
Asahi has emphasised that these changes will have ‘minimal’ impact on the business performance forecast for FY2023.