VB beer regains top billing
Foster's has returned to growth after a sustained period of sales decline in Australia, with volumes growing by 3 per cent in the final quarter of 2013.
The result was underpinned by a strong performance by Foster's flagship VB beer, which has regained its position as the nation's biggest-selling brew.
Trading results released by global brewing giant SABMiller show VB recorded sales growth for the second consecutive quarter since its re-launch in October.
SABMiller, which paid more than $12 billion for Foster's in 2011, said VB had shown growth after a decade-long decline in sales.
But the brewer continues to suffer from the loss of key brands, with full-year volumes in Australia down 5 per cent on a pro forma continuing basis, while total volumes, including discontinued brands, were down by 13 per cent.
After the purchase of Foster's, SABMiller lost third-party brands Foster's brewed under licence, including Corona, Asahi and Stella Artois.
But it looks to have resurrected the VB brand, which had a national market share of 25 per cent in 2000 but that declined every month for the next 10 years.
Foster's relaunched VB last year, lifting the alcohol content back to 4.9 per cent from 4.6 per cent, and reinstated its popular "hard earned thirst" advertising slogan. This has helped return VB to growth.
Latest brewing industry figures show that VB regained its crown as Australia's biggest-selling beer, knocking off Queensland interloper XXXX Gold, which took the No.1 position in May last year.
Latest Nielsen figures show that VB has a market share of 12.2 per cent of the off-premise beer market, against 11.9 per cent for XXXX Gold.