German beer sales in 2003 registered a fall, according to figures released last week. Richard Weber, the president of the association of German beer brewers, DBB, reported that Germany's breweries sold a total of 105.5m hectolitres of beer in 2003, down by 2.1% year-on-year.

Germany's per capita beer consumption also fell, by an average of 4.2 litres to 117.5 litres. Weber blamed the decrease on the compulsory deposit on disposable packaging in the country and the overall consumption slowdown.

The country's beer production also fell last year, by 2m hectolitres to 106.3m hectolitres, although exports increased by 1% to 12m hectolitres. Italy, France, the UK and the US were the main importers of German beer in 2003.

Weber added, however, that German breweries, of which there are around 1,260, posted a growth in sale of 2% for the first four months of 2004.

Weber also warned against the additional tax levied on RTDs at the beginning of June while calling for stricter observation of the law to prevent alcohol sales to under-age drinkers. German breweries should look at launching non-alcoholic RTDs, as the market lacks innovation, Weber said.