The World Cup could kick off a fresh wave in sales of duty-avoided beer and wine, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors has warned.

When World Cup fever last gripped the UK four years ago, huge volumes of duty-avoided alcohol flooded the market to cater for the increased demand for booze.

Since then the problem of duty-avoided wine and beer has got dramatically worse and the problem could escalate further this summer, the FWD said.

The World Cup, and the effect it could have on the demand for cheap beer, was one of the issues raised by the FWD, Stuart MacFarlane, UK boss of AB InBev, and Charles Wilson CEO of Booker, when they met Treasury Minister Sarah McCarthy-Fry this week to discuss alcohol duty fraud.

“This year it will be a big issue in the trade,” said FWD CEO James Bielby.

“At the meeting we were given firm assurances that for the first time the government would treat alcohol duty fraud as a high priority, which was very encouraging.

“The minister said she recognised the huge impact the problem is having on businesses and the government’s finances and the link between it and serious organised crime.

“The government is ­going to step up its campaign to tackle the problem and will also step up its publicity campaign to show that they are taking it seriously.”