AB InBev, the world's biggest brewery group, saw its sold volume rise by 1.8% to 93.2 million hectolitres in the first quarter of 2012. Due to rising prices, the actual turnover grew by 6.2% to 9.33 billion dollar (more than 7 billion euro), while the net profit almost doubled to 1.69 billion dollar (1.3 billion euro).
Growth almost everywhere...
InBev has started 2012 very well in most places: the emerging markets performed very well – as usual: in Central-America, sales growth was 4.8%, in South-America 3.2%. Asian sales grew 3.2% as well, as the three regions profited from higher prices and a rising number of adults.
The first three months of 2012 saw the first quarterly growth in the United States since AB InBev acquired Budweiser in 2008. Most of that rise was due to the launch of Bud Light Platinum, which AB InBev claims to be “the most successful launch of an American alcoholic brand since 2005”.
... but bad results in Europe
Contrary to the rest of the world, news from Europe is less good. In Western Europe, the volume decreased to 6.2 million hectolitres (-5.1%).T he United Kingdom was the worst under-performer, with sales plummeting 9.7% due to the crisis and a higher VAT. In Central and Eastern Europe, the volume went down by 9.7% as well, ending at only 4.3 million hectolitres in the first three months of the year.
AB InBev shares its main concern with their competitors: beer consumption in mature markets is decreasing. Earlier this month, SABMiller and Heineken also released messages of higher volumes in emerging markets, but stagnation or worse in Western Europe. The fourth major brewery in the world, Carlsberg, will release its results only next week.
Beck's behaves badly
InBev's three worldwide brands achieved a combined growth of 4.8%, mostly owing to Budweiser's +7.3% in volume. Stella Artois grew by 1.3%, but Beck's went down 4.2% due to a steep decrease in the United States and the United Kingdom, despite an excellent record in its home market Germany.
As its strongest performers per country, InBev names Bud Light and Stella Artois in the United States, Budweiser and Harbin in China, Antarctica and Brahma in Brazil and Quilmes in Argentina.
For the full year 2012, InBev expects a strong volume growth and a turnover that will rise “faster than the inflation.”