BELGIUM – Alcoholic beverage giants AB InBev and Molson Coors have reported strong full year sales for 2021 mainly driven by premiumisation and recovery demand for beer in key markets in Europe and North America. 

AB InBev saw total volumes grow by 9.6% in FY2021, compared to the coronavirus-related drop of 5.7% the brewer reported last year. 

The rise in beer volumes saw the owner of Budweiser and Stella Artois beer brands report a revenue increase of 15.6% on an organic basis.  

For 2021, AB InBev’s reported revenue was US$54.3 billion, compared with 2020’s US$46.88 billion.  

Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA) for the Belgium-based company grew by 11.8% to US$19.21 billion. 

Growth was mainly driven by AB InBev’s core brands Budweiser, Stella Artois, and Corona which saw a 23.5% increase in the combined revenues outside of their respective home markets in Q4, and a rise of 22.9% for the full year. 

In Europe, the company’s top-line recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Compared to 2020, “revenue grew by low-teens with mid-single-digit volume and revenue per hl growth”. 

In the US, revenue grew by 3.4%. Meanwhile, EBITDA declined by 0.9%, mainly due to increased selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses. 

In Brazil, total volumes grew by 7.3% with beer volumes up by 7%, while EBITDA declined by 6.4%. 

“This year was an important step in our journey to create a future with more cheers,” said AB InBev’s CEO, Michel Doukeris.  

“Relentless execution of our strategy drove continued momentum to deliver over 15% top-line growth, EBITDA at the top end of our outlook and another year of strong cash flow generation.” 

Premiumisation drives growth at Molson Coors 

At Molson Coors, growth was majorly driven by investments in its capabilities and the premiumisation of its portfolio, according to company executives.  

This was the first time in more than a decade, the Miller Lite and Coors beer brands owner reported annual revenue growth.  

Net sales rose 6.5% to US$10.28 billion in 2021, a dramatic turnaround from 2020 when net sales declined 8.7% as pandemic restrictions weighed on demand. 

The company continues to make investments to increase its hard seltzer production capacity, with notable expansions in Canada and the UK. 

For example, the company announced back in 2020 that it had increased production capacity for its Vizzy, Coors Seltzer and Blue Moon LightSky products by more than 400% at its Fort Worth and Milwaukee breweries to meet growing consumer demand. 

Molson Coors CEO, Gavin Hattersley, said: “This year, we grew the top-line for the first time in a decade, our two biggest brands each grew net sales and we now have a larger global above premium portfolio than ever before.  

These were all goals of the revitalisation plan, against which we continue to make tremendous progress.” 

For the fourth quarter, Molson Coors’ net sales grew 14.2% to US$2.62 billion, beating Refinitiv estimates of US$2.55 billion.  

But its quarterly profits were under pressure as freight and commodity costs ticked higher. 

To combat higher costs due to persistent inflation, Molson Coors raised prices in January and February, earlier than its usual springtime price hikes. 

Even with inflation and supply chain challenges, Molson Coors is forecasting 2022 net sales growth to be in the mid-single digits, excluding currency fluctuations. 

The company also said it’s ahead of its goal to hit US$1 billion in sales by 2023 for its emerging growth categories, which include nonalcoholic drinks, craft beers and Latin American business. 

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