A chequered sales performance shredded AB InBev’s market share during the first quarter. Photo: EPA
A chequered sales performance shredded AB InBev’s market share during the first quarter. Photo: EPA
A chequered sales performance shredded AB InBev’s market share during the first quarter. Photo: EPA
A chequered sales performance shredded AB InBev’s market share during the first quarter. Photo: EPA
JOHANNESBURG - Anheuser Busch InBev (AB InBev) shredded its market share during the first quarter, blaming the losses on food price hikes and what it called above-inflation excise tax increases announced during the annual Budget in February.

The group said that the increases reduced demand in the mainstream segment and the muted performance of its products during the Easter peak season in the country.

It said its brands, bar Castle Light, failed to meet expectations during the period.

“Our South African business saw revenue growth of mid-single digits, driven by high single-digit revenue per half-year growth and low single-digit volume declines,” AB InBev said.

“The above-inflation excise tax increases announced in the annual Budget in February were followed by a price increase on March 1, unlike the prior year when the tax increase was absorbed until July 1. This reduced demand in the mainstream segment with a consequent loss of market share during the earlier Easter peak season.”

The news, however, failed to dampen its performance in the JSE yesterday, with the stock rising to R1283.05 in early trade from Tuesday’s closing price of R1233.25.

The group closed almost unchanged at R1233.20 on the JSE yesterday.

AB InBev said its flagship Budweiser brand, which was launched locally in March ahead of the upcoming Fifa World Cup, grew more than 200percent in the quarter.

Strong growth

The group said Castle Lite continued its strong growth in the core-plus segment and this quarter achieved the highest-ever online engagement, while Castle Free continues to expand the beer category into the no-alcohol space.

“In the near beer segment, the successful launch of a new variant contributed to more than 30percent growth in Flying Fish,” the group said.

Last year, AB InBev launched the 1-litre returnable bottle and rolled it out nationally during the first quarter.

The world’s largest brewer reported 4.7percent growth in revenue to $13.07billion (R164.21bn) for the quarter, driven by revenue management initiatives as well as continued strong premium brand performance. The group said global revenue growth was driven by good volume performances in Mexico, Colombia and Argentina.

Normalised profit attributable to equity holders of AB InBev was $1.44bn in the quarter as compared to $1.46bn in the first quarter of 2017.

“Our global brands continued to deliver solid results, with revenue growth of 7.9percent globally and 12.2percent outside of their respective home markets,” the group said. It said Budweiser revenues declined by 1.3percent due primarily to a soft performance in the US.

“However, excluding the US, Budweiser saw growth of 2.5percent driven by Brazil, Paraguay, India and South Korea.”

Stella Artois delivered double-digit top-line growth, led by Argentina, the UK and the US. The group added that Corona continued to lead the way, with revenues up by 25.1percent and by 40.3percent outside of Mexico, fuelled by strong results from a diverse set of markets.

- BUSINESS REPORT