The group said that it sold 20.6 million hectolitres of beer in the first quarter of 2004, compared to 17 million hectolitres in the same period of last year. It said that its organic volume growth increased by 1.9 million hectolitres, an 11 per cent increase.
According to Interbrew, the driving force behind the volume and sales increase was the performance of its two major global brands. Stella Artois and Beck's both performed consistently well in the company's key markets: Stella's global volume sales increased by more than 9 per cent for the period, while Beck's increased its sales by more than 19 per cent.
The group was particularly pleased with its performance in the US market, after focusing its marketing efforts on that particular market in a bid to redress the decline in volumes registered in 2003 as a result of weak performances by key brands and the slowing growth rate of the import segment there. Overall volume was up 18 per cent in the US, boosted in particular by the Beck's brand as a result of a new advertising campaign under the "Life Beckons" strapline. Interbrew said that the brand was growing well above the rest of the import category as a result of the campaign.
In Russia and the Ukraine, the group's volume sales also increased. However, the highest growth rates in this area came not from major global brands but from the premium local beer Sibirskaya Korona. That said, both Stella and Beck's also performed well, as did the multi-country brand Staropramen.