Heineken sold less beer, but due to the higher drink prices, the brewer was able to record a higher turnover. In the US and Europe, among others, people have bought less beer, but CEO Dolf van den Brink thinks the downturn in those areas isn’t so bad. “Consumer demand held up better than expected in the first quarter,” he said.
Worldwide, Heineken sold 54.8 million hectoliters of beer in the first three months of 2023. This is 3 percent less than in the same period last year. But turnover for the group, which also owns brands such as Amstel, Desperados and Birra Moretti, rose nearly 9 percent. This is largely due to higher prices, as Heineken reported in its quarterly numbers. Profits fell to 403 million euros, compared to 417 million euros in the first quarter of 2022.
In the past year, Heineken has already had to deal with greatly increased costs, which have been largely outpaced in the sales prices of beer cans and bottles. More expensive packaging materials and ingredients are expected to make beer more expensive this year, too. This is why Heineken actually relied on sales in the Netherlands and other Western European countries to crash.
But the beer group also had to deal with setbacks in Vietnam and Nigeria, where there was less demand for Heineken-brand beers. In addition, Heineken reports that it has stopped selling its most popular brand in Russia. The Amsterdam brewery has been increasing sales of the “premium brand” Heineken for years in order to increase profitability.
Heineken has recently swept through the dust after an uproar over its activities in Russia. In March last year, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the company announced its intention to leave the country. But after research by the news site Follow The Money, it turned out that the Russian subsidiary of Heineken launched dozens of new products in 2022. Then Heineken stated that it “should have been clearer sooner about the need to introduce new products” in the country.
The intention is still that Heineken will sell its Russian part. But uncertainty about the rules applied by the Russian authorities will make the deal more difficult. Heineken expects to incur a book loss on this sale.
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