Dutch beer group Heineken, the world’s third largest brewer, said like for-like beer volumes in the first quarter fell 6.3%.

Consolidated beer volumes grew 12% thanks to the acquisition of Scottish & Newcastle but comparable volumes nosedived after declines in Europe and the Americas.

Heineken, which also owns the Amstel beer brand, said western Europeans drank 9.8% less of its beer during the first quarter while volumes in central and east Europe slipped by 12% and by 16% in the Americas.

Only the emerging markets of Africa and Asia-Pacific showed organic volume growth.

Heineken said that the impact and duration of the global economic downturn remained unclear. It also said that among its priorities for 2009 was to improve the performance of newly acquired businesses, including S&N.