Brewer Budvar Says Output Down 2.5 Percent

State-owned Czech brewery Budvar, which has been fighting long legal battle over Budweiser brand, said production fell 2.5 percent in 2009.

PRAGUE (AP) -- State-owned Czech brewery Budvar -- which has been fighting a long legal battle over the Budweiser brand -- said Thursday its production fell 2.5 percent in 2009, mostly due to weaker demand at home.

Budejovicky Budvar NP said it produced 1.285 million hectoliters (33.4 million gallons) of beer in 2009, compared with 1.312 million hectoliters the previous year.

Exports were down 0.3 percent at 580,000 hectoliters despite global economic problems, with the sales in Germany, the brewer's most important market, up by 9.2 percent.

"We consider (the exports) a success," Budvar spokesman Petr Samec said.

Detailed 2009 figures, including financial results, will be released in the year's second quarter, Samec said.

Budvar exported its beer to 58 countries last year, entering new markets in the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Kosovo, he said.

Budvar fought for years with American brewer Anheuser-Busch in a number of countries over use of the famous Budweiser brand, to which both companies claim a historical right. Anheuser-Busch was taken over by Belgian brewer InBev last year to form Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest beer company. Budvar said the sale did not affect the legal battle.

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