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The History of Kirin Expanding Beer Production during the Period of Accelerated Economic Growth(1956-1972)

From 1956 to 1964, when Japan sustained robust economic growth, the beer market grew at an average annual rate of an impressive 20.6% and remained increasingly competitive with two more large beer makers in the arena. During this period, Kirin Brewery built a new plant every one or two years to boost its production. The company implemented processes to collect account receivables on time, ensuring smoother transactions with a growing network of retailers. Moreover, to expand and streamline the delivery of beer products nationally, the company started using plastic returnable containers to ship bottles of beer, and implemented an integrated palletization system that enabled cases of beer stacked on a pallet to be stored and transported as a unit load from a warehouse to a retailer. The company also mechanized paperwork for product shipment to achieve greater efficiency.

In the mid-1960s, while beer production in Japan grew at a more moderate 7% annually, Kirin Brewery remained aggressive in expanding its production capacity. The company used carefully selected malt and hops to offer high-quality beer to customers, who reacted positively to the company's commitment to quality. In 1972, Kirin Brewery, then operating 12 plants around the country, took 60% of the Japanese beer market.

In the meantime, the company diversified its business. It established in 1963 Vending Machine Services Co., Ltd. (the forerunner of Kirin Beverage Co., Ltd.) to sell soft drinks through vending machines, and in 1972 it established Kirin-Seagram Co., Ltd. (the forerunner of Kirin Distillery Co., Ltd.) to go into the whisky business.

Plastic returnable container for bottles of beer from 1966
Kirin Lemon Clair, lemon-flavored carbonated drink sold through vending machines by Vending Machine Services
Robert Brown, the first whisky made in Japan by Kirin-Seagram

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© 2007 Kirin Holdings Company, Limited.

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