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Japanese whisky shortage ‘may last 10 years’

Supply of Beam Suntory’s Japanese whisky may struggle to meet consumer demand for another 10 years, the president and CEO of the firm’s parent company has predicted.

Suntory’s CEO Takeshi Niinami said his company will “gradually be able to respond” to demand for Japanese whisky in 10 years’ time

Speaking to The Spirits Business, Takeshi Niinami, head of Suntory Holdings, said it could take up to a decade for Beam Suntory’s Japanese whisky distilleries to meet demand from consumers and retailers.

“[W]e can’t supply enough to the market requirement,” he said. “But in 10 years’ time, we will gradually be able to respond to the market need.

“So if we say long-term, which is five years, we will still be working on how to convince our clients in the situation that we can’t supply them.”

However, Niinami stressed that Beam Suntory must sustain “positive momentum” for more than 10 years to ensure that its aged whisky will find a market.

“[W]e have to maintain the current momentum for as long as more than a decade, but we are very much confident,” he said. “Our policy is constant improvement, that’s out spirit.

“We have got to improve quality always, we should not stay within our current quality, [we should] always try to make our products better. As long as we do this, we can sustain current momentum, I am confident of it.”

Niinami was named president and CEO of Suntory Holdings in July 2014, with a primary focus to lead the integration of Beam and Suntory’s spirits portfolios.

Japan-based Suntory acquired US-based Beam for US$16 billion at the start of 2014.

Amid a boom in demand for Japanese whisky, Suntory’s Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries have increased capacity in recent years. Suntory now has more than one million casks of maturing Japanese whisky.

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