Poland's beer output is expected to rise slightly this year, according to the country's brewery association ZPPP. The organisation said late last week that combined output should rise by 3.5% year-on-year for 2005 from 26.8m hectolitres in 2004.

The forecast is lower than the 9% to 11% per annum growth reached by the Polish breweries in the last ten years, said ZPPP. The country is also expected to be among the few European Union markets to report growth over the next few years, ZPPP said.

Last year, Polish breweries doubled their beer exports year-on-year, hitting 400,000 hectolitres. The market leader in terms of beer sales in 2004 was Grupa Zywiec, which sold over 10m hectolitres, followed by Kompania Piwowarska with 10m hectolitres, Carlsberg-Okocim with 4.2m hectolitres and Browar Belgia, with 1.09m hectolitres.

Combined, these four companies controlled 80% of the domestic beer market, while 30 small and medium-sized breweries controlled the remaining 20% in 2004.