Interbrew and Carlton & United Breweries (CUB), have signed a distribution agreement which gives CUB the right to import, distribute and market Interbrew's brands Leffe and Hoegaarden in Australia until 2012.

The two companies already have a deal in place, since 2002, when they signed a ten-year license contract giving CUB the right to brew, distribute and market Stella Artois.

As Australian beer drinkers' seek out new experiences outside the traditional Australian mainstream beer territory, the country's premium beer market is growing at around 12% per year, outperforming the total beer market by seven percentage points.

Belgian beers, in particular, have enjoyed a surge in popularity over the past few years.  Interbrew's specialty brands like Hoegaarden, the white beer, and the Leffe range of Abbey beers have grown more than 80% and 70% per year respectively in the past year alone.
 
"The growth of our Belgian beer portfolio is outstanding," said Trevor O'Hoy, managing director, CUB. "We are delighted to have taken our relationship with Interbrew to another level by formalising our commitment to several of Interbrew's premium brands. We are committed to the expansion of the premium segment in Australia and have no doubt that the exceptional performance of Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Leffe will continue as Australian consumers' demand for specialty beers increases."

"Interbrew is very pleased to further develop its premium portfolio in Australia together with its long-term partner CUB, the largest Australian brewer," said Tony Desmet, senior vice president global export - Licenses.