Dominating the globe

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

Latin America overtook South Africa as SABMiller's most profitable beer market during the year ended in March.

Latin American earnings grew 17percent to $1,07billion, while the loss of Amstel knocked its home market earnings down seven percent to $1,03billion.

The transformation of the South African beer company into the world's third biggest brewer has seen its portfolio grow to 200 brands sold in 60 countries.

Its fastest growing brand is China's top selling beer Snow, which grew 63percent by volume and 81percent by revenue despite blizzards marring Chinese New Year celebrations.

SABMiller generally managed to grow revenue faster than volumes. It passed drinkers the tab for malt and barley prices doubling and hops rising tenfold on poor crops last year.

Locally, SABMiller grew Castle sales eight percent by volume and 15percent by revenue.

Chief executive Graham Mackay said Castle's growth along with the launch of Hansa Marzen Gold has helped it maintain South African lager volumes after starting the year nine percent down on the loss of Amstel.

Amstel's parent company Heineken is attacking the brewer on its home turf by building a plant in Gauteng. The European brewer in turn faces stiffer competition in its home market following SABMiller's acquisition of Grolsch in February.

By buying the Dutch brewer, SABMiler also dealt a blow to its main US rival Anheuser-Busch, which used to sell Grolsch in North America.