A marked rise in tax on beer in Russia could slow sales for brewers in the country this year, a trade body has warned.

The Union of Russian Brewers said earlier this week that the tax hike, introduced at the beginning of this year, could lead Russians back towards spirits consumption.

"We believe the increased tax will stimulate the intake of strong alcohol," a union spokesperson was cited as saying in a Reuters report. "We predict that the trend which began some years ago of Russians switching to beer from strong alcohol, will now be stopped, and that the trend will be reversed."

At the start of this year, Russian authorities introduced a 32.4% rise in excise duty on beer in the country, while upping strong alcohol duty by 7%.