SABMiller has posted a healthy lift in sales and profits for the first half of its fiscal year, but has warned of a "more challenging environment" going forward.

The global brewer, which is based in London, said today (15 November) that sales in the six-month period rose to US$10.78bn, from $9.34bn in the corresponding period a year earlier. Operating profit was also up, to $1.69bn from $1.51bn.

Net profit followed suit, lifting to $1.08bn from $908bn.

In volume terms, sales in the half registered growth of 11% year-on-year, to 135m hectolitres.

In the US, Miller Brewing saw sales to retailers rise by 1.4%, ahead of total market growth of 1.0%. The unit's flagship brand, Miller Lite, returned to growth, posting a 2.1% rise in sales to retailers.

Europe's performance was described as "excellent", driven by volume growth in Poland, Russia and Romania thanks, in part, to warm weather across Eastern Europe during the first quarter.

Turning to Latin America, the brewer noted that the speed and scale of its plan to renovate the beer category in the region has led to "some inevitable market dislocation during the period". Evenso, lager volumes rose by 8% in the half-year.

In China, the company's joint venture, CR Snow, delivered volume growth of 22%, with national brand Snow accounting for over 70% of the venture's volumes. India saw volumes leap by 28%, while momentum in the Africa region continued, thanks partly to favourable economic conditions in Tanzania, Mozambique and Angola.

Finally, in South Africa, the company saw volumes inch up by 2% despite the termination of the Amstel brand in March of this year.

"This has been a good start to the year, demonstrating the strength of our brand portfolio and the health of our businesses," said Graham Mackay, SABMiller's CEO. "We have delivered another excellent performance in Europe, a pleasing return to growth in North America, and our Asian businesses have continued their momentum and made market share gains.

"At the second anniversary of our Bavaria transaction, our volumes have grown strongly in Latin America and our investment plans remain on track."

SABMiller said it has continued to invest in its businesses, which, together with "ongoing productivity gains", are offsetting industry-wide costs pressures. "We expect to make progress in the balance of the year but face a more challenging environment," the company concluded.