Sales of beer in Bulgaria between January and May this year are expected to exceed those from the same period last year, the union of Bulgarian brewers said this week.

So far sales of over 121.273 million litres have been recorded, but that is before the Ledenika and Varnensko Pivo breweries have submitted their sales. Once they have added their numbers the union believes overall beer sales for the January-May 2003 period are expected to exceed the 143.415 million litres sold in the respective period of 2002,

Brewinvest, the joint venture between Greece's Hellenic Bottling and Dutch brewing group Heineken NV was the largest player in the market, selling 42.182 million litres.

Warm weather and the large-scale advertising campaigns launched by most producers are recognised as the main drivers of the sales increases.