SABmiller has reported a 3% rise in beer volumes for its first half, despite slowdowns in the emerging markets of Russia and China.

Beer volume growth of 24% in Romania drove SABMiller forward in the six months to 30 September, the brewer said in a trading update today (14 October). Price rises also helped revenue per hectolitre to increase by 5%, it said.

SAB shares on the FTSE 100 exchange initially rose this morning, following the group's assurance that trading for the year was in-line with expectations, but were down 1% by 09:30. 

Growth in Romania, as well as volume rises of 11%, 4% and 3% in Africa, Poland and Latin America respectively, enabled the brewer to offset flat volumes in China and a decline in Russia during the half.

Russian beer volumes fell 4%, due to a mixture of weakening consumer confidence, poor weather and lower stocks at wholesalers, Malcolm Wyman, SAB's chief financial officer, said in a conference call this morning.

Several brewers have highlighted a beer market slowdown in Russia this year. Wyman said today that he expected the market to return to growth in the "low single digits" over the longer term, but declined to comment on prospects for the rest of the year.   

Looking forward, SAB warned that on a global level: "Deteriorating global economic conditions, weakening consumer demand and volatile exchange rates make the prospects for the rest of the financial year increasingly uncertain."

On the US market, where SAB this year officially merged with Molson Coors, group beer volumes to retailers fell 2% during the first half.