Taichi Umezawa, public relations manager at Suntory Liquors Ltd, confirmed a report published by major daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun on Sunday which said that beginning on April 1, Yamazaki, Hakushu, Chita, Hibiki and other popular labels will be up to 28% more expensive in Japan.
Suntory aims to compensate for predicted growth in production costs as “whiskey is mainly made from corn — an ingredient whose price has climbed in recent years,” the company said.
Some of the price hikes will also apply to Suntory’s imported whiskies, such as The Macallan, Glenfiddich, and Tullamore Dew.
The hike will also affect domestic products produced by Suntory’s rivals, including Nikka and Mars.
The price increases will not apply to sales overseas, Umezawa said.
Suntory is Japan’s leading whiskey producer with a market share of about 34%, followed by rival Kirin Brewery Co.’s Yamazaki Distillery at 23%. Suntory’s Yamazaki whiskey was named World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s 2015 Whisky Bible.
The move comes after Suntory announced in December that it would raise prices on some popular domestic whiskies and liquors by 20% and 30%, respectively, effective Jan. 15 this year.
Nissin Food Company announced last month that beginning on April 1, Yamazaki, Hakushu, Chita, and other well-known brands in Japan will be up to 28% more expensive. Whisky prices are set to rise by as much as five percent, according to the Japanese government. Some of these increases will also apply to imported whiskies distributed by Suntory, such as The Macallan, Glenfiddich, and Tullamore Dew.
Suntory’s announcement comes on the heels of several years of rising sales, particularly for Japanese whiskey. Last year, Suntory sold 2.5 million cases of domestic whiskey in Japan, representing a 7% increase over 2017, according to company data.
Internationally, Suntory’s overall volume grew 5% last year, to 95.8 million cases. The company’s growth was led by whisky and beer sales in China and whiskey sales in the Americas (up 11%).Suntory said it will cover some of the price increases with a special dividend for shareholders.