Awamori shipments declining for 11 consecutive years

March 30, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On March 29, the Okinawa Distillers Association announced figures of shipments of Awamori for the fiscal year of 2015. The total of shipments was 19,247 kiloliters, down 3.9% on the previous year, and the first figure under 20,000 kiloliters in 16 years. Shipments of Awamori declined 30.5 percent to 27,688 kiloliters in the 11th consecutive year of decline from the peak in 2004. Despite the Association doing PR presentations and projects using funding from the Prefecture, the decline of shipments does not stop.

While shipments within the prefecture totaled 16,368 kiloliters, 76.3 percent of the peak, shipments to other prefectures dropped to 2879 kiloliters, only 30.5 percent of the peak. At the press meeting, Yoshihide Matayoshi, the executive of the Association, explained, “The brewing industry tried hard to increase shipments, but we have not seen a result. We take this situation as a serious crisis.”

Possible reasons for the decline lie in youth’s disinterest in alcohol, population decline, and a public push to eradicate drunk driving. The Association has launched a policy to strengthen sales in three areas: 1) transmitting attractive information of old vintage Awamori; 2) developing low alcohol products for women and youth; 3) selling products in a way that attracts tourists.
Chairman of the Association Tamanaha said, “We need to enrich this local industry bearing in mind culture and tradition.”

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)

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