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Heineken sells more beer than expected as Europe reopens

By Reuters   April 19, 2022 | 11:26 pm PT
Heineken sells more beer than expected as Europe reopens
Heineken beer bottles are seen at a bar in Monterrey, Mexico June 20, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Daniel Becerril
Heineken NV achieved a sharper than expected rise in first-quarter beer sales as European bars reopened, allowing the company to stick to its 2022 forecast despite added uncertainty from the conflict in Ukraine.

Beer volumes rose by 5.2 percent on a like-for-like basis from the same period last year, the world's second-largest brewer said on Wednesday, beating the 3.5 percent average forecast in a company- compiled poll.

The increase in Europe was 11.5 percent, driven by a steady loosening of coronavirus restrictions, with Heineken's beer sales in bars and restaurants there almost tripling.

The Dutch maker of Heineken, Sol and Tiger lagers and Strongbow cider said Russia's invasion of Ukraine had brought additional uncertainty to the global economic outlook and commodity markets.

"We expect mounting inflationary pressures to impact household disposable income and a consequent risk to beer consumption later in the year," Heineken said in a statement, echoing a view first expressed in February before Russia invaded Ukraine in what Moscow calls a "special military operation".

Heineken said it was benefiting from hedging positions taken in 2021 but faced rising costs, supply chain challenges and pressure from its decision to leave Russia.

For all that, however, the company maintained its guidance of "stable to modest" improvement to its operating profit margin in 2022.

Heineken had said in February that spiralling inflation could lead to lower beer consumption, casting doubt on its plan to raise its operating margin to 17 percent in 2023.

The Dutch brewer said then that input costs would rise by a mid-teens percentage rate, with barley double its price of a year ago and aluminium up by about 50 percent. Energy and freight costs have also risen sharply.

 
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