Belgian brewery group AB InBev has achieved record volumes in 2022. The group is thriving in its Belgian home market, despite a lower-than-expected performance during the World Cup football.
Less during the World Cup
AB InBev saw its turnover rising by 11.2 % to 57.8 billion dollars (54 billion euros). That growth was mainly caused by price increases, as volume climbed ‘only’ 2.3 % to 595 million hectolitres. However, the Belgium-based brewing giant pointed out that that still was a record volume.
The Budweiser producer today achieves the most revenue on the North American market (at 16 billion euros), but growth was strongest in South America (at + 28 %). Although AB InBev could not pass on all cost increases to consumers, its operating profit excluding currency effects rose 7.2 % to 19 billion euros.
Remarkably, the world’s largest brewer sold less beer in the last quarter, just as the World Cup was taking place in Qatar. This was largely due to the United States: due to rising prices, Americans drank less beer. Volume actually fell by 8.3 % in North America, while prices rose by only 2.5 %.
Focus on premium
AB InBev is not worried that the quarterly trend will continue this year: for 2023, the group is counting on its operating profit rising by between 4 and 8 %, in line with last year. However, the profit margin will be further diluted by ongoing inflation. On the Russian-Ukrainian front, the brewer remains split: like Heineken and Carlsberg, AB InBev promised to move out of Russia, but has so far failed to do so. At the same time, the company proudly reports that it brought Chernihivske, Ukraine’s most popular beer, to Belgium last year and gave all proceeds from that sale to humanitarian aid.
In its Belgian home market, AB InBev saw a continued recovery in the hospitality industry in 2022, thanks mainly to a focus on ‘premiumisation’. Stella Artois ranks as premium there, accounting for double-digit growth compared to 2021. Its retail market share also climbed thanks to premium beers. “2022 was a year full of challenges, but the beer category remains resilient”, president Fabio Sala of AB InBev BeNeLux and France said.