The Japan Aluminum Association released production numbers for the month of June on Friday, noting a 16.8-percent drop of aluminium sheet shipments, registering a total for the month of 35,157 metric tons.
Per the association, the fall-off may be attributed to a corresponding drop in demand of Japanese beer, coupled with a retreating demand for aluminium sheet in the production of aluminium bottles for use in the sale of coffee beverages.
“Japanese beer consumption has been on a decline for the last few years. Shipment of aluminum bottles [for non-alcoholic beverages] peaked off from last year due to increase of PET bottles. Beverages in steel cans (had) shifted to aluminum and (now) there is a shift to PET bottles,” explained one analyst to Platts.
Though beer industry sources say the decline in consumption is declining only in the single digits, the use of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is displacing metal as a preferred material for beverage containers in some quarters.
Japanese manufacturers provided 15,400 metric tons of aluminium sheet to automakers in the month, an increase of 1.1 percent over the previous year. Among the aluminium shipped was 3xxx and 6xxx alloys, which are utilized in lithium-ion batteries. The former is employed in the production of lithium-ion cell cases and in gauges and other electrical components, and the latter is used in battery cases.
“Since batteries weigh as much as an engine, the rest of the car needs to be lighter. Vehicles remain a strong growth area for aluminum,” an industry source explained to Platts.
All in all, Japan’s aluminium sheet shipped tallied 105,970 metric tons in the month, off by 9.8 percent over last year. Extruded aluminium shipped last month came to 66,592 metric tons, less by 2 percent on the year. The total for rolled and extruded aluminium for the month was 172,562 metric tons, a decline of 6.9 percent over last June.