SABMiller has said this year's performance has been in line with expectations, as the brewer heads into the last quarter.

In a trading update today (17 January), the company noted an impressive performance in Europe in quarter three and the nine months of its fiscal year so far. SABMiller's US division, however, has struggled in the period.

Total organic lager volume growth for the three months to 31 December was some 10%, marginally ahead of growth for the year to date of 9.5%.

In Europe, lager volumes grew by around 13% year-on-year during the quarter, on an organic basis, with year to date growth of over 9%. The brewer credited the strong figures to continuing good performances from Poland, Russia and Romania, influenced by an exceptionally mild winter.

Meanwhile, in the US, Miller's sales to retailers slid by 0.9% on the corresponding period a year earlier on an organic basis, although the company pointed to stronger performances from Miller and Miller Lite in December. For the year to date, Miller's organic domestic sales to retailers fell by 2.8% after adjusting for the number of trading days in the period, and by 3.3% unadjusted. "Whilst Miller's December STR performance has been encouraging, supported by increased marketing and sales programmes, price recovery and raw material costs were more adverse in the quarter than expected," SABMiller conceded.

Elsewhere, lager volumes for South Africa Beverages were up in both periods by 1%, while soft drink volumes slid by 3% for the quarter and "are now slightly down" for the year so far. South America lager volumes for the quarter rose by 12% and by 11% year to date. In Central America, carbonated soft drink volumes (CSDs) were up 6% for both periods, whilst lager volumes were 9% higher in the quarter, with year to date growth of 7%.

In Africa and Asia, lager volumes increased by 30% in the quarter and by 25% for the nine-month period, with China being credited with growth figures of 30% in Q3.

"The group's financial performance has been in line with our expectations outlined at the time of the interim results announcement, despite the headwinds experienced at Miller and in South Africa, and the comparatively weaker South African rand/US dollar exchange rate prevailing in the quarter," SABMiller concluded.