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The Fukushima Minyū site reports on the growth of ginjō-class sake in Fukushima prefecture, which climbed to nearly 40% of sake sent outside of the prefecture in 2017 according to figures released by the prefecture and its brewers association.

This comes against the backdrop of a decline in the total volume shipped over the last few years.

Shipments of junmai sake have also increased over the last four years according to the statistics covering the years 2014 to 2017. The news site puts part of their success down to the prefecture taking the most gold medals at the National New Sake Awards for the fifth year in a row, and expects this to form part of their sales strategy.

Total volume sent out of the prefecture was 6% less than in 2014, but ginjō and junmai – which both boast high retail prices – took up 37.2% and 37.3%* of that amount. [*I’m guessing slightly about the junmai, as the article says 7.3% but that can’t be right as it’s just above ginjō on the graph.]

This is certainly a result of a national trend towards preferring finer sake, but there’s also the interesting point that volumes of ginjō, the style that’s winning Fukushima all its awards, is rising at a faster rate than in other parts of the country. The prefectural department in charge of strategies for promoting local produce commented that carefully crafted sake, such as fine or seasonal sake, is becoming more popular and they intended to keep disseminating information centred on “Fukushima sake” as a brand.

The prefecture and prefectural brewers association agree that in recent years the country has come to prefer more expensive ginjō and junmai (tokutei meisho shu, classifications of sake regulated by law) to cheap futsūshu. However, a trend among the young to turn away from alcohol combined with changes in eating patterns and and a fall in group tours have caused a fall in total volumes both for Fukushima and the whole country. Alarmed by these developments, the prefecture and brewers association are looking to create new markets among young people and also abroad. Exports overseas from Fukushima have doubled since 2012.