SABMiller has embarked on an assault on the growing PET segment in Romania with the launch of flagship brand Timisoreana into the category.

The London-listed brewing giant, which owns Romania's Ursus Breweries, said today (21 August) that it has launched a two-litre PET bottle of Timisoreana into the country's retail channel.

Mihai Barsan, senior brand manager for Timisoreana, told just-drinks that Ursus aims to repeat the brand's performance in the horeca sector, where it is the top-selling beer in the mainstream segment.

"The move into PET is very important to get leadership of the (retail) mainstream category," Barsan said. "PET accounts for 30-40% of mainstream sales in retail and horeca (combined)."

PET has grown in popularity among Romania's beer drinkers in recent years and has lost its "economy connotations", Barsan said.

Improvements in packaging technology and more beer advertising focusing on PET have driven rising demand among drinkers. Furthermore, the price of a two-litre PET bottle is up to 12% cheaper than a glass bottle of the equivalent size, Barsan added.

SABMiller declined to disclose how much the launch had cost.

Ursus Breweries is the second-largest brewer in Romania's beer market with 22% of the market. Brau Union Romania, owned by Dutch brewing giant Heineken, is market leader with a 25% share.

Beer sales in Romania were reported to be up 10% during the first half of the year thanks to hot summer weather and the football World Cup.

In the year to 31 March, SABMiller saw sales volumes rise 5%, held back by production constraints among its four sites in Romania. The brewer's capacity in the country is in the process of being extended to 3.9m hectolitres.