Moscow police are looking for the murderers of the Russian Juice Producers Union's president, who was beaten to death by masked attackers last weekend, according to local reports.

Russian news agency RIA-Novosti said that Valery Ostapets was beaten with baseball bats by two men wearing ski masks while he was walking his dog in the grounds of his home in Krekshino. Ostapets was then taken to hospital with serious head injuries and died later.

It was not known whether the attack was connected with Ostapets' role as president of the Juice Producers Union, which he had led since 1999, said reports.

Union members include Lebedyansky, which has just been bought by PepsiCo and the Pepsi Bottling Group (PBG) for US$1.4bn, Multon, owned by bottler Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling in partnership with The Coca-Cola Co., Wimm-Bill-Dann and Nidan Soki, recently acquired by Lion Capital.

The Russian juice market is set for major growth in Europe in the near future. A few years ago, Ostapets predicted that Russia's juice sector was growing more rapidly than in other countries, and, since then product quality has leapt forward.

Russian criminal groups have allegedly targeted the juice industry in the past, added the news agency.