Shares in the Japanese brewer Asahi Breweries Ltd fell today following news that the company was unlikely to reach its profit forecast for the first half because of slow sales.

"Along with other beer makers we are suffering from weaker-than-expected sales of both regular and low-malt beer," an Asahi spokesman said.

He said the company was likely to report lower-than-forecast pretax profit and sales for the half-year when it announces earnings on Thursday.

This morning shares of Asahi fell as much as 3.2% in early trading. Asahi's shares fell ¥22 to ¥670, only slightly above its 52-week low of 665 yen - before recovering slightly.

Japanese brewers have been fighting a battle against weak demand and high competition for some time.