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SABMiller Sees Drop In Lager Consumption

Brewer recorded a 1.6 percent drop in lager consumption from existing businesses in the first quarter as consumers cut back spending in some countries.

LONDON (AP) -- Brewer SABMiller PLC recorded a 1.6 percent drop in lager consumption from existing businesses in the first quarter as consumers cut back spending in some countries, Chief Executive Graham Mackay said Thursday.

The decline followed extraordinarily high growth of 13 percent in the same period in 2007, lower sales in China and "the moderation of consumer spending in some markets," Mackay said in a statement.

If SABMiller's newly acquired businesses are included, the group, which makes Miller, Grolsch and Peroni, would have posted 1.5 percent growth in lager sales in the three months ending June 30, the company said in a trading update.

In China, sales were down 5 percent, affected by the Sichuan earthquake on May 12 which killed nearly 70,000 people, consumer price inflation and higher beer industry prices. In the previous year, sales had grown in China by 25 percent.

Lager sales also fell in South Africa, with "softer consumer demand, with retail sales under pressure from higher interest rates and increasing food and energy costs" affecting the 3 percent drop, said Mackay.

The beer maker's shares fell 4 percent to 1,059 pence ($20.97) on the London Stock Exchange.

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