In a trading statement published on Wednesday, the Belgian brewing group, Interbrew, said it was continuing to forecast "meaningful" organic growth and profit growth for 2003. The company said it had recorded volume growth during the first five months of 2003.

"In line with expectations outlined at the presentation of the 2002 results in March, Interbrew continues to believe that, excluding currency impact, it will achieve meaningful organic volume and organic profit growth for 2003," the company said.

At the AGM earlier in the year, Interbrew's CEO reiterated the group's forecast of higher volume sales and profits for the year but gave few details.

The market had been anticipating bad news from Interbrew following the profit warning from Dutch brewer, Heineken, on Monday. But the company said that volume growth had outperformed the market in most countries.

"The worldwide beer industry was characterised by a slow first quarter, followed by a partial recovery in the second quarter, which saw favourable weather conditions throughout Western Europe," Interbrew said, adding that Russia and Ukraine were having an "excellent" year with volumes and market share growing substantially.

Volume grow in Central Europe was also slightly ahead of the market, while Interbrew had shown market share growth in most markets in Western Europe. While volumes were weaker in the US import sector, Canada had produced "postive market-share development".