Baltika is hoping for a healthy rise in production next year. Speaking to business daily Vedomosti today (2 November), Baltika chief Teimuraz Bollovev said: "We hope to increase production by 10% to 16% (in 2005)."

In the first 9 months of this year, Baltika said it has produced 6.35m hectolitres of beer. Last year, sales hit 16.2m hectolitres.

Bolloyev said Russia's beer market growth would slow from last year's levels, however. "According to my estimates, this year's growth will be lower than last year - 8 to 10% and no more than 5 to 6% in 2005," Bolloyev told Vedomosti.

Russia's beer per capita beer consumption currently stands at 55 litres, Bollovev said. "I was sure before that we will be close to the 70 litre level during 2005, but it will not happen," he added.