Carlos Brito, chief executive of Anheuser-Busch InBev, poses with a Stella Artois. Photo:Reuters
JOHANNESBURG – Anheuser-Busch InBev SA (AB InBev), the world’s biggest brewery, reported higher revenues from its global brands Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, in the first quarter of 2019, as volumes were softer in South Africa, with consumers remaining constrained due to challenging macroeconomic conditions.

The company said on Tuesday that the first quarter of 2019 saw the combined revenues of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, growing by 8.5 percent globally, and by 14 percent outside of their respective home markets. South Africa’s revenue declined by mid-single digits, predominantly due to lower volumes driven by the later timing of the Easter holiday and coupled with lower consumer demand.

“This was due to an ongoing challenging macroeconomic environment and continued segment mix shift toward the premium segment, where we still have lower market share than our average,” the global beverage giant said. It also said South Africa’s high-end portfolio continued to grow by double digits and had gained more than 6 percentage points of market share in the growing premium segment compared to the first quarter of 2018.

“This was led by the strong performances of Corona and Budweiser. In the core segment, which is more elastic and therefore more exposed to macroeconomic challenges, our volumes remained under pressure,” it said.

However across Africa, excluding South Africa, volumes continued to grow in all its markets, except Mozambique, due to the devastating effects of a severe cyclone, and Tanzania, due to the later timing of the Easter holiday. In January Mozambique grappled with Cyclone Idai, one of the worst tropical cyclones on record.

Despite glitches in South Africa, the company recorded a solid performance in the first quarter of 2019, comprising a 5.9 percent revenue growth driven by 1.3 percent higher volumes. The shares closed 3.83 percent lower on the JSE on Tuesday at R1226.55.