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Budweiser raises glass to parched footie fans

Stella Artois and Budweiser brewing giant AB InBev toasted a World Cup boost from thirsty football fans as UK beer volumes rose by almost a fifth between April and June.

The group, which also sells beers including Beck's, Bass and Boddingtons, said volumes jumped 18.6% in the quarter and 11.4% over the first half, outstripping other European markets.

Budweiser was the official beer of the South African tournament and UK volumes rose more than 70% against the first half of 2009, the company added.

AB InBev also benefited from local World Cup sponsorship deals for several of its other brands including Brahma in Brazil, and also Jupiler in Holland and Belgium.

UK president Stuart Macfarlane said the UK had delivered "a fantastic result, even more so in this challenging environment" as better weather and a promotional campaign also increased demand.

The brewer launched Budweiser across Russia in May - the world's fourth largest beer market - and hopes to use the football tournament as a platform for moves into other markets.

"The increased consumer interest and engagement with the Budweiser brand initiated by the World Cup provides an early indication of the brand's global potential," the firm added.

The strong UK showing contrasted with a more sluggish 2.6% rise in own-beer volumes across Western Europe during the second quarter.