Despite a fall in volume in North America and Western Europe, InBev has registered total organic volume growth for the first half of the year of 5.4%, compared to the same period last year.

Broken down, the company saw organic volume growth of 5.5% for beer and 4.6% for soft-drinks, during the period. The company added that second quarter beer organic volume growth of 6.3% was markedly stronger than first quarter growth of 4.4%.

In North America, Canadian volumes declined by 1.2%, impacted by Ontario where the discount segment continues to grow, partly offset by good progress in Québec.

The US market slowdown led to a 4.3% volume decline, due to the softness of the domestic low-carb brand, Green Rock Light, and the group's Canadian brands, which were down by nearly 8%.  However, sales of InBev's European brands in the region however grew by nearly 12% during the first half. 

In Central and South America, beer volumes were up strongly in nearly all countries. In Brazil, beer market share improved 2.0%age points over the first half of 2004, reaching 68.3% on the back of 13.3% volume growth.

In Western Europe volumes declined by 4.6% - Benefralux was lower by 3.1%, UK/Ireland declined by 9.7%, while Germany/Italy/Spain/Austria/Switzerland increased by 1.2% on the back of better second quarter volumes.

Overall beer volume growth in Central and Eastern Europe was 8.1%, as a result of strong growth in Russia/Ukraine (+14.7%) combined with weaker volume developments in the Balkans  (-1.5%) and Hungary/Croatia/Czech Republic (-2.2%). Nearly all countries in this Zone delivered better organic volume growth than in the first quarter.

In Asia Pacific, organic volume decline of 4.1% in South Korea was more than offset by 5.5% growth in China, now having Lion Group as part of organic performance.

A statement said: "InBev is pleased by the development, worldwide, of its three global flagship brands. While Stella Artois volume declined by 3.9% primarily due to the weak UK market, Beck's grew by 11.6%, and Brahma grew by 20.0%, mainly due to market share recovery in Brazil and strong growth in Venezuela. The global launch of Brahma and the introduction of Stella Artois in Brazil will further strengthen our premium brand volumes going forward. 

"Despite challenging trading conditions in some markets, operational performance in the first half was in line with our plan to deliver solid volume and EBITDA performance for the year of 2005."