© K. Cemnolonskio nuotr.

2015 has been a slow year for Lithuanian beer makers, with sales inching down 2% compared to the year before. Industry experts say the contraction is to continue, not least because of the shrinking population in the country.

In 2015, Lithuanians consumed 287 million litres of beer, 2% less than in 2014. Some of the reasons behind the drop were relatively cool temperatures last summer and the declining population, while price wars among retailers eroded manufacturers' bottom-lines, according to a market overview by Euromonitor International.

These factors are expected to remain in place over the coming five years, pressing down on the market even further.

This year, the government's efforts to reduce alcohol consumption and rising excise duties will also have an impact, Euromonitor International says.

Rolandas Viršilas, CEO of Švyturys-Utenos Alos, one of Lithuania's biggest breweries, agrees that the coming five years will be tough.

"I link sombre outlook to emigration. Many people leave the country, most of them are our consumers, while tourists are not numerous enough to offset the loss," Viršilas tells VZ.lt.

He adds, however, that beer remains a popular beverage with Lithuanians who are changing their beer drinking habits.

Niche brands and craft beers are making their way into the markets, especially in Lithuania's big cities.

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