Beer exports leapt by over a third last year, according to figures released on Friday. The national beer association Assobirra reported that exports of Italian beer in 2003 soared by 38% over 2002, while production rose by 7.1%.

Per capita consumption continued its upward trend, rising to 30 litres from 28 litres in 2002.
Assobirra credited the hot summer of 2003 and beer's image as "a healthy and natural brew."

Italy is the seventh largest beer producer in Europe, with 16 major breweries producing and distributing 120 brands.