The beer market in France has suffered a poor start to the year, one of the country's beverage associations has said.

According to the brewing industry association Brasseurs de France, in the first five months of the year, beer consumption in France has fallen by 3%, compared to the same period in 2004.

The fall comes after a poor 2004, when consumption dropped by 4.7% overall to to 20.2m hectolitres.

However, a French press report quoted Brasseurs de France's chairman, Olivier Picot, saying that the full year 2005 was expected to be less worrying, given the highly seasonal character of the beer market.

He added that innovations in the market were expected to help turn the run of declining sales round from 2006 onwards.