The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) is calling on the government to introduce duty stamps on cans of beer a move it says will massively reduce duty fraud.

HMRC estimates that more than £700m in annual revenue is lost to the Exchequer through beer bought from unscrupulous wholesalers on which UK duty has not been paid. Most of are sold through retailers who may not realise the products on their shelves are affected.

FWD chief executive James Bielby said: "The advantage of such a scheme is that the stamps would provide evidence of the duty having been correctly paid on all alcohol in the UK. All product sold here would have to contain such a mark and it would be illegal to export UK duty stamped product, which would reduce fraud."

A duty stamps scheme for spirits, introduced in 2006, saw the estimated revenue loss to the Exchequer fall from £450m in 2006-7 to £350m in 2007-8.

However, the scheme faces opposition from drinks suppliers who say the huge volume of unit sales and the vast range of products would make it prohibitively expensive.