SABMiller Sales Slip

World's largest brewer said volumes of lager and soft drinks fell by 1 percent in the three months through June as gains in emerging markets were offset by drops in richer countries.

LONDON (AP) -- SABMiller, the world's largest brewer, said Thursday that volumes of lager and soft drinks fell by 1 percent in the three months through June as gains in emerging markets were offset by drops in richer countries.

SABMiller's chief executive, Graham Mackay, said lager volumes rose 7 percent in Africa and 4 percent in Asia but fell 9 percent in Europe.

In the United States, the MillerCoors joint venture reported a 2.4 percent decline in sales to retailers.

The figures are for organic growth rates, which exclude the impact of acquisitions and disposals.

SABMiller brews Grolsch, Pilsner Urquell and Peroni Nastro Azzurro beers; the company is also a major franchise bottler and distributor for Coca-Cola brands in 18 countries.

"Recent excise-related price increases and, in the first two months, the timing of Easter, poor weather, and specific events in Poland and Colombia held volumes back in a number of key markets," Mackay said at the company's annual meeting.

"Overall, the financial performance of the group in the quarter was in line with our expectations," he added. The company did not report earnings for the period.

SABMiller shares were up 0.2 percent at 1,906 pence in late morning trading on the London Stock Exchange.

In Poland, sales were depressed by restrictions on alcohol sales during nine days of national mourning following the death of its president, Lech Kaczynski, and other dignitaries in a plane crash.

In Colombia, sales fell as prices were marked up to cover a tax on beer, he said, and sales also suffered from five "dry days" surrounding presidential elections.

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