Latin American brewing force, Quilmes Industrial SA, posted a US$23.5m loss for the first quarter on net sales some 49% down at US$155m. The Luxembourg-based group recorded a net profit of US$21.6m in the first quarter of last year.

The company said it had been hit by lower beer volumes resulting from adverse economic conditions in certain Latin American markets. Beer volume sales fell from 3.84m hls to 3.31m hls.

Net revenues in Argentina, the group's largest market where it operates the leading brewing force, Quilmes, fell dramatically from US$148m to US$60.2m, severely affected by the devaluation of the Argentine peso and government restrictions on the financial markets. Volumes in Argentina fell from 2.72m hls to 2.28m hls.

The company's operations in Bolivia performed better, with net revenues rising marginally from US$21.1m to US$21.4m but volumes were down from 395,000 hls to 388,000 hls. Sales in Paraguay fell from US$24.7m to US$19.5m with volumes down from 488,000 hls to 425,000 hls. In Chile, revenues fell from US$8.3m to US$7.2m on slightly lower volumes of 135,000 hls.

Earlier this month, Quilmes sold a 36% stake in its Argentine division to the Brazilian-based drinks company, AmBev, for US$346.4m and took on AmBev operations in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay as part of the same deal.