US brewer, Boston Beer Co., posted a net loss of US$0.11m for the first quarter of 2003, against net income of US$1.32m in the first quarter of 2002. Sales fell from US$45.6m to US$45.3m.

Boston Beer said shipments fell from 275,000 barrels to 270,000 barrels. That drop of under 2% was below the 5% decrease the company had been expecting.

The brewer attributed the decline in volumes to weak economic conditions and consumer confidence, coupled with adverse weather conditions and the impact of recent world events.

Based on current forecasts, the company said it was expecting a volume decrease for the first half of 2003 in single digits.