Drinks retailers in Scotland are being urged to offer consumers more low-alcohol drinks to help combat alcohol abuse.

The call from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), comes as part of an alcohol industry partnership agreement with the Scottish Executive and the alcohol industry to use Scotland as a test market for new low and no-alcohol drinks.

"Part of being a responsible retailer has to be offering consumers alternatives to alcohol," said SRC director, Fiona Moriarty.

"Look at the way consumers are looking at fat, salt and sugar in their foods. Soon they will be pushing retailers for these sorts of alternative drinks as well."

Scotland has some of the worst rates of alcohol abuse in the UK and the issue is top of the agenda in the Scottish Parliament.

One of the first steps in tackling the issue was the formation of the partnership agreement, which was signed last month.

Initial signatories include the SRC, the Scottish Grocers Federation and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association as well as Scottish & Newcastle UK, Diageo and Tennents beer.

Owner of Tennents, InBev UK, admitted there were no specific plans to introduce a low or no-alcohol alternative. However a brewery spokeswoman said: "We have Beck's Alcohol Free, which is performing well, showing there is consumer demand within the category and we are trialling Beck's Green Lemon - a 2.5% abv beer in selected stores."

Last year S&N trialled Foster's Quench - a 2% abv version of Fosters on draught into the Scottish on-trade. "That trial has finished and we are learning lessons from that," said Nigel Pollard, head of public relations and sponsorship at the brewer.

Diageo said it was not sure what products it might develop. Tesco and Asda confirmed they were looking at expanding their low alcohol drinks offers but not specifically as part of the Scottish initiative.