The CEO of Absolut vodka has told just-drinks that the brand still sees growth opportunities in the US market, despite volume declines in 2008.

Absolut CEO Ketil Eriksen dismissed analyst speculation that the premium vodka brand has little volume growth potential left in the US and should look at targeting other markets.

"Absolut is growing virtually everywhere and we shall continue to see significant growth coming out of the US for years to come," Eriksen said in an interview with just-drinks.

"We think we can continue to grow in the US as soon as the market settles. We have to go through this recession but there is [every] reason for our vodka to continue to not grow in that market."

Absolut volumes fell by 3% in the US, its largest market, during the six months ended 31 December, the brand's new owner, Pernod Ricard, announced in its first half results last week. 

Global Absolut volumes dropped by 2%, compared to the same period of 2007, despite double-digit growth in emerging markets for the brand in Western Europe.   

Eriksen said: "First of all it is on a non-comparable basis really. We moved the brand into Pernod and the period before and around those dates were pretty difficult. We will be back on top of growing our market share very shortly.

"The vodka market is holding up very well but there is a slip from on- to off-trade where you see a sort of downtrading, so people are going from super premium to premium to standard. In light of all these things we are pretty ok with the results so far. It is an exceptional period for the brand where it has gone through the transition."

Going forward, Eriksen said the company was currently focused on China and Korea but said he also saw Thailand as a "very interesting" market.

Next Tuesday (24 February), just-drinks will publish the full interview with Eriksen.