* Snow becomes world's top selling beer brand
* Snow sales volumes jump 19.1 percent in 2008
LONDON, March 31 Chinese beer Snow leapt ahead
of Bud Light to become the world's biggest selling beer as China
stretches its lead as the largest beer market in the world,
according to provisional data from researcher Plato Logic.
Snow, which is brewed by SABMiller SAB.L and its Chinese
partner China Resources Enterprises Ltd (0291.HK), saw its 2008
sales volumes jump 19.1 percent to 61 million hectolitres
putting it well ahead of Bud Light and sister brew Budweiser.
Belgium-based InBev based in Belgium and brewer of Stella
Artois and Beck's, took over Bud Light and Budweiser brewer
Anheuser-Busch for $52 billion in November 2008 to create the
world's largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev INTB.BR.
Plato lists the top six beer brands as the Snow range of
beers followed by the Bud Light range, including Dry and Ice, at
55.6 million hectolitres, Budweiser at 43.4 million followed by
AB-InBev's Brazilian beer Skol, Modelo's GMODELOC.MX Mexican
beer Corona and the Heineken brand (HEIN.AS).
The Snow brand has grown rapidly as China overtook the
United States earlier this decade to become the biggest beer
market in the world in terms of volume and is now over 50
percent larger. In 2007, Plato put Snow second to Bud Light and
ahead of Budweiser.
The Snow range of brands accounts for 84 percent of sales at
the China Resources-SABMiller joint venture in 2008, the Chinese
group reported in its 2008 results earlier on Tuesday.
However, AB-InBev argued that Bud Light was the world's best
selling beer as a single trademark brand as Snow represents a
family of beer brand that include at least 25 extensions.
It added that the Budweiser family of brands which include
Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Select, Bud Light Lime and others
remain the best-selling family of beers in the world.
"By itself, Bud Light remains the largest single brand in
the world," AB-InBev said in a statement sent to Reuters.
In 2008, AB-InBev said its own beer brands saw sales volumes
fall 0.3 percent, while its focus brands which include Stella
Artois, Beck's, Budweiser and Bud Light rose some 2.6 percent,
but it did not give individual brand performances.
World's leading beer brands in million hectolitres, 2008
provisional figures from Plato Logic
1. Snow (range) 61.0
2. Bud Light (range) 55.6
3. Budweiser 43.4
4. Skol (Brazil) 35.4
5. Corona 32.7
6. Heineken 29.1
(Reporting by David Jones; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)