Optimism over sales in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe has prompted the Dutch brewer to raise its forecast for the full-year ending December 2007 to 20 to 25 per cent, up from the 10 to 13 per cent forcast range made in June last year, the company said. The company attributed the growth in these areas to strong economies, favourable weather for beer drinking, along with an increased demand for international premium beers. According to Heineken, overall beer volume sales increased 9.3 per cent in the first six months of 2007, from 53.3 to 58.2 million hectolitres. The Asia Pacific region experienced the most rapid growth during this period, with an increase in beer volume sales of 30.9 per cent. Other strong markets were Africa, with sales growth of 16.5 per cent, and Central and Eastern Europe, where sales volumes increased 11.9 per cent, Heineken said. Sales in Western Europe and the US experienced some growth in terms of consolidated volume, but at a much slower rate. Sales in the US grew 4.3 per cent, and a mere one per cent in Western Europe, attributed to wet or mixed weather and price increases. The brand Heineken Premium Light is increasingly popular in the US, with sales growth of 30 per cent in the area in the first half of 2007, however the company said that reaching the one million hectolitre target for the year will be challenging. In February this year, Heineken said that profit growth for the global operations in 2006 was 12.6 per cent, only half of this year's predicted results. Over the past few years the company has aimed to boost sales by expanding internationally, especially in Eastern Europe. Last month, it purchased the Kruovice brewery in the Czech Republic, giving the brewer an eight per cent market share in the country. Heineken said yesterday it will post its financial results for the first half of 2007 on 29 August.