Lager volumes for the third quarter were 3% ahead of the prior year, SABMiller plc (SAB) said on Thursday as it released its interim management statement for the group's third quarter ended 31 December 2011.
SABMiller added that there had been good growth in all its regions with the exception of Europe and North America. Soft drinks volumes grew by 6% for the quarter with growth across all regions.
Organic, constant currency group revenue grew 7% for the quarter while group revenue per hectolitre grew 3% on the same basis supported principally by price benefits, with mix gains achieved in all regions except Europe.
"Overall, financial performance for the quarter was in line with our expectations."
In Latin America, lager volumes continued to show robust growth with volumes up 8% while in Central America lager volumes were up 6% with a particularly strong performance in El Salvador following the introduction of larger packs as part of the group's "affordability strategy".
However, Europe's lager volumes were down 2%.
"Beer markets remain affected by intense competition, which continued negatively to impact mix, as well as fragile economic conditions," SABMiller added.
Lager volumes in Africa grew by 11%, despite cycling strong comparatives (third quarter volumes grew by 12% last year) and capacity constraints in a number of markets.
In Tanzania lager volumes grew by 13% driven by both solid growth in premium brands and the strengthening of mainstream brands due to expanded and intensified sales and distribution.
Continued extension of market penetration grew lager volumes in Uganda, up 17%.
In Zambia lager volumes increased 16% underpinned by robust growth of the group's mainstream portfolio against a backdrop of strong economic conditions.
Lager volumes in Mozambique grew by 8% benefiting from the launch of the Impala brand, a cassava based beer, and strong growth in the north of the country.
In Zimbabwe the group's associate delivered lager volume growth of 19% supported by further improved product availability.
"Our associate Castel grew lager volumes by 9% with a strong performance in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo," SABMiller said.
"Soft drinks volumes grew by 9% driven by solid performances from South Sudan, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and from our associate Castel."
In Asia Pacific lager volumes grew by 7% on an organic basis. Volumes in China grew 5%, despite cycling a strong comparative period. Including the impact of regional acquisitions, China's volumes were up 11%. In India volumes were up 21% benefitting from the lifting of trading restrictions in Andhra Pradesh, which had constrained volumes in the same quarter of the prior year, as well as good growth in the focus states of Karnataka and Haryana.
On 16 December 2011, the group completed the acquisition of Foster's in Australia for a total cash consideration of approximately AU$10.483 billion (approximately US$10.465 billion), and the Asia segment was renamed the Asia Pacific segment.
"Volumes for Foster's are not included in third quarter group or divisional results. On a pro forma basis, Foster's volumes for the quarter ended 31 December 2011 were 6% below the same period in the prior year. The beer category overall is estimated to have declined at a slightly slower rate in the quarter."
In SA, in a challenging economic environment, lager volumes grew 2%.
"Growth was driven largely by momentum from our core power brands, particularly Castle Lite and Castle Lager, as we continued to make targeted investments in our portfolio and focused on improving retail execution and customer service," the group stated.
Soft drinks volumes increased 1% despite tough trading conditions and cycling strong growth of 9% in the comparative quarter.