Drinks group, Frucor, has downgraded its expectations of growth in Australia but remains upbeat about growth opportunities for its energy drinks there.

The company's managing director, Mark Cowsill said he hoped the group's Australian sales would overtake its New Zealand operation within two to three years.

Sales in Australia in the year to June 30 2001 reached NZ$46.72m against the company's NZ$168.15m turnover in New Zealand. Although earnings in Australia were running lower than forecast, Cowsill was optimistic about the potential for growth in the country's energy drink market long-term.

Frucor produces the "V" energy drink and recently launched a new sportswater brand called Mizone's. Cowsill added that the proposed takeover by Danone would only help its progress in Australia where the cold drinks market is seven to eight times that of New Zealand.

As a whole, Frucor's current earnings forecast remained the same, the company said, with slightly higher income in New Zealand being offset by higher losses in the UK and reduced earnings in Australia.