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COMPANY RESULTS

Prost! AB InBev’s global results reveal just how well beer builds better business

Prost! AB InBev’s global results reveal just how well beer builds better business
(Photo: Unsplash / Josh Olalde)

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, has reported its strongest international pricing in years — double-digit top and bottom-line growth, and a 13.2% increase in total revenue.

The brewing giant’s 13.2% top-line growth was driven by pricing actions, ongoing premiumisation and other revenue management initiatives. 

Ebitda increased by 13.6% despite expected commodity cost headwinds, while increasing sales and marketing investments in its brands. Underlying dollar earnings per share increased by 8.7%.

About 62% of group revenue was driven through B2B digital platforms, with the monthly active user base of BEES (its business-to-business e-commerce platform) reaching 3.1 million users. More than $100-million of group revenue was generated by its digital direct-to-consumer ecosystem.

AB InBev launched BEES three years ago to empower its small and medium-sized retail partners and help grow their businesses.

BEES captured about $8.2-billion of gross merchandise value (GMV) – a 32% increase on Q1 of 2022, with 62% of revenue through B2B digital channels.

The BEES Marketplace is live in 15 markets and generated an annualised GMV of about $1.2-billion, with 59% of BEES customers now also marketplace buyers.

Outside their respective home markets, Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona increased by 15.4% in combined revenues.

More than 30% of AB InBev’s global revenue growth came from its no-alcohol beer portfolio, chiefly Budweiser Zero in Brazil and the US, where the brand was the #1 no-alcohol beer by volume in Q1 2023, and growth of Corona Cero across Canada and Europe. 

Its digital direct-to-consumer products are also driving a better understanding of its customers, through “consumption occasions” such as soccer sponsorships (eg Brahma Soccer Wednesdays) and Corona Sunsets music festivals.

AB InBev’s premium beer portfolio grew revenue by mid-teens, led by double-digit growth of Michelob ULTRA in the US and Mexico, and double-digit growth of Original and Spaten in Brazil. Global brands grew revenue by 15.4% outside their home markets, led by Budweiser (up 17.8%), supported by the return of consumer demand in China and continued growth in India. 

Stella Artois grew by 13.3% and Corona by 11.9%.

The Beyond Beer business contributed over $325-million of revenue and grew by low-single digits as growth globally was partially offset by a soft malt-based seltzer industry in the US. 

Within the spirits-based ready-to-drink segment, Cutwater and NÜTRL vodka seltzer combined grew revenues by over 50% in that market. 

In Brazil, Beats delivered over 75% revenue growth. 

SA operations

South African operations were slightly less sparkling, even with high single-digit top-line growth and record-high quarterly volumes. 

Commenting on the group’s local performance, Richard Rivett-Carnac, CEO of South African Breweries, said: “The momentum of our business continued, delivering record-high volumes for the first quarter. Our performance was led by Carling Black Label, the number one beer brand in the country, which delivered over 20% revenue growth. Our premium, super premium and beyond beer portfolios all delivered double-digit increases in revenue.”

Michel Doukeris, AB InBev CEO, said the group’s business momentum continued this quarter: 

“We continue to invest for the long term and these results reinforce our confidence in the resilience of the beer category, the effectiveness of our strategy and the strength of our platform to deliver consistent profitable growth.” 

Brewers from Heineken to Carlsberg have been raising prices to offset higher costs for aluminium, energy and grains, Bloomberg reported

AB InBev increased its pricing by 12% in the quarter and its premium beers have outperformed. BM/DM

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