Radeberger Gruppe, Germany's largest brewer, has posted a strong start to the year, but warned that this performance may struggle throughout the rest of the year.

The brewer said yesterday (13 June) that sales in the first five months of 2007 came in 5% higher than the same time a year earlier. The figures are particularly impressive in a market where per capita consumption of beer has been falling consistently.

Speaking to local reporters, company CEO Ulrich Kallmeyer said that the brewer has a tough summer ahead of it, however, as it goes up against last year's football world cup, which took place in the country. Rising prices, both of raw materials and of glass, will also make the rest of 2007 challenging, Kallmeyer noted.

When contacted by just-drinks today, a spokesperson for the brewer said: "We invested a lot of money in our brands in the first four months of this year. We also relaunched our flagship Radeberger beer in a new bottle. So we have done quite well.

"Not only will the rest of the year be difficult for us, it will be difficult for all brewers in Germany," the spokesperson continued. "We will try to keep as much growth as we can - but if you can tell me what the weather will be like this summer, then I can tell you how we will perform."

Last year, Radeberger, which has 14 breweries around the country, snapped up regional brewer Freiberger Brauhaus, as consolidation started to take a grip on the German beer market. Radeberger, which controls around 15% of the market, said at the time that it was targeting 20% share, with acquisitions being the "only possible (way) to enhance your market share in Germany".