SABMiller plans to invest in its South American operations over the next five years due to a rise in sales volumes and profit growth potential in the region.

The company said yesterday (10 May) that the US$1.8bn investment will be spent renovating the brewer's brand's image in an effort to broaden the brewer's consumer base. The campaign will include new packaging and upgraded brewing capacity, as well as improving point of sale and developing route to market networks said the group.

Strong volume growth in Colombia has already accelerated the investment of US$175m in a new brewery in Cali, said the company. Similarly in Peru, SABMiller's subsidiary Backus and Johnston has announced it will invest US$102m in the expansion of its facilities at Ate and Motupe.

Speaking today (11 May), SABMiller South America president Barry Smith said: "This last quarter has seen another good performance from our businesses in South America, with volumes ahead some 12% on a pro forma basis, and up 11% year to date. This performance, and the smooth integration of the four new operations that has been achieved in the last year, gives me confidence that we will continue to make good progress towards developing our South American platform."

The investment follows SABMiller's Colombian beer unit recently being slapped with an antitrust probe. Last month, the Colombian government's antitrust agency said it has opened an investigation into the alleged breaching of antitrust regulations by Bavaria. The probe will look at claims, made by Heineken in the country, that Bavaria instructed retailers, bars and restaurants not to stock Heineken if they wanted to stock SABMiller's international beer brand Peroni.