Heineken sells more beer in first quarter, sticks to outlook

Brewer focused on restoring volume growth this year

Heineken sold more beer than expected in the first quarter, reporting its first quarterly year-on-year growth in volumes in a year as it stuck to its forecast for profit growth in 2024.

The world’s second-largest brewer said on Wednesday that beer volumes rose 4.7 per cent organically in the January-March period, beating the 2.5 per cent growth expected by analysts in a company-provided poll.

Heineken is focused on restoring volume growth this year, which was hurt in 2023 as it hiked its prices to offset the rising costs of everything from energy to barley.

CEO Dolf van den Brink said in a statement that all regions posted higher volume and net revenue.


He added the quarter was helped by an earlier Easter and one-off effects.

Still, the brewer said it continued to see the economic environment as "challenging and uncertain".

"Despite the solid start to the year, we cannot extrapolate the reported top-line growth to the rest of the year," it said.

Heineken disappointed investors in February with its wide range for forecast operating profit growth, which it said could be anywhere between a low and high single-digit percentage this year.

Its cautious view early in the year had been in part caused by the uncertainty in two of its important markets, Vietnam and Nigeria, where economic conditions dragged on its performance last year.

Heineken said total volume in Nigeria grew close to 20 per cent. In Vietnam, where it had to destock last year, volume rose in the low-teens.

Barclays analyst Laurence Whyatt pointed out a recovery in high-margin market Vietnam, as well as promising performance in Mexico and Brazil.

"There is no denying that the underlying business appears to have turned the corner and we continue to expect improvements during the year," he said in a note.

In Brazil, Heineken said its namesake brand became the No.1 brand by value in the quarter, while beer volume grew by a high-single-digit.

Net revenue before one-offs rose 9.4 per cent organically to €6.85 billion, above the 7.2 per cent growth expected by analysts. Currency translation reduced the figure by 4.6 per cent, Heineken added. - Reuters

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist