found in the notes to the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements that accompany this news release.
"Ball Corporation finished the year strong, with continued improved performance across each of our segments. In our global beverage can business, overall volumes were up approximately 2.5 percent in the quarter, driven by continued strong performance in our South American beverage can business, a rebound in our North American beverage operations following the hurricane disruptions experienced in the third quarter, and our European beverage can business continued to execute its margin-enhancing strategy. In addition, our food and aerosol segment was up year-over-year in the quarter driven by the mid-single digit increase in global aluminum aerosol volumes and better than expected tinplate packaging volumes, while our aerospace team achieved record contracted backlog levels at year-end," said John A. Hayes, chairman, president and chief executive officer.
"We are poised to execute on numerous growth capital and network optimization projects to enhance our customers' access to our innovative specialty container portfolio while also expanding the company's U.S. aerospace infrastructure. With our businesses operating from a position of strength, we continue to drive toward our financial goals of $2 billion of comparable EBITDA and in excess of $1 billion of free cash flow in 2019."
Beverage Packaging, North and Central America
Beverage packaging, North and Central America, comparable segment operating earnings for the full-year 2017 were $533 million on sales of $4.2 billion, compared to $469 million on sales of $3.6 billion in 2016. Segment operating earnings in the fourth quarter were $133 million on sales of $998 million, compared to $114 million on sales of $959 million in the fourth quarter 2016.
Year-over-year results reflect low-single digit segment volume growth following continued growth in Mexican beer imports, increasing demand for differentiated specialty can sizes for carbonated soft drinks and development in other non-alcoholic beverage categories offset by declines in domestic mass beer consumption in 2017.
During the quarter, cost savings from the previously disclosed Reidsville, North Carolina, plant rationalization and an improved operating environment in the southern U.S., as well as continued growth in Mexican volumes were offset by a decline in domestic beer consumption. Overall beverage can segment volumes for the quarter were flat. The construction of a state-of-the-art specialty beverage can manufacturing facility in Goodyear, Arizona, is on schedule and on budget with production beginning early in the second half of 2018.
Beverage Packaging, South America
Beverage packaging, South America, comparable segment operating earnings for the full-year 2017 were $333 million on sales of $1.7 billion, compared to $185 million on sales of $1 billion during 2016. Segment operating earnings in the fourth quarter of 2017 were $128 million on sales of $547 million compared to $85 million on sales of $437 million in the fourth quarter of 2016.