SABMiller has reported a 1% dip in beer sales by volume for its first fiscal quarter, damaged by the effects of the global economic downturn in Eastern Europe.

SABMiller today (15 October) reported the slip in like-for-like volume sales for the three months to the end of September.

Volume sales tumbled 12% in Russia during the period, against a Russian market down 6%, as consumers "traded down" from high-end beers, said the UK-listed brewer, which owns Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Grolsch and Miller Genuine Draft. 

Total Europe volumes shrank 6%, compared to the same quarter of last year, with Poland down 4% and Czech Republic down 3%. Growth in Romania halved from 24% last year to 12% in the first quarter of this year.

Shares in SABMiller briefly fell on the London Stock Exchange this morning, from around GBP16.3 to GBP16.1, but had recovered lost ground to remain broadly even for the day by 0900 BST.

"Financial performance for the half year was in line with our expectations," said the group, adding that price rises helped it to "support revenue".

The brewer also saw volume declines for the quarter in the US, where its MillerCoors joint venture reported domestic sales to retailers down 1%. In South Africa, volume sales fell 3%.

However, there were gains of 3% and 9% in volume sales across the rest of Africa and in Asia respectively, with the latter region led by SABMiller's CR Snow joint venture in China.

The firm's global soft drinks sales rose 1% by volume for the quarter. 

For the full announcement, click here.