World’s largest brewer still suffers hangover from year-long boycott

Cans of Bud Light beer. Washington. Jan. 10, 2019.
Cans of Bud Light beer. Washington. Jan. 10, 2019. Copyright Jacquelyn Martin/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Jacquelyn Martin/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Eleanor Butler
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Belgian drinks company Anheuser-Busch Inbev meets quarterly revenue forecasts but fails to fully recover from last year’s backlash.


Brewer AB InBev announced on Wednesday that its revenue grew by 2.6% in the first three months of the year, a result which fell in line with analysts' expectations.

In terms of volume, AB InBev sold slightly more beer than anticipated, noting a decline of 0.6%.

Revenue figures for the firm, which makes Stella Artois, Bud Light, and Corona beer, were boosted by sales of products such as spirits-based drinks in cans.

The results are nonetheless historically low due to the lasting effects of a customer boycott.

Last year, AB InBev sparked controversy when deciding to work with the transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

The company sent the 26 year-old a personalised Bud Light can to celebrate the first year since her transition.

Right-wing commentators accused the brand of pushing a overly-liberal agenda.

Left-wing voices then criticised the brewer for failing to support Mulvaney.

Earlier this week, AB InBev's Europe CEO Jason Warner told UK media outlet the Telegraph newspaper that the company will "stay in our lane" following the reaction to the campaign, which had sought to appeal to consumers by promoting diversity.

Wednesday's quarterly results showed a 11.1% drop in sales of AB InBev’s own beer brands in North America, which the firm blamed on Bud Light's performance.

Despite the backlash, commentators believe that the effects of the boycott will now start to fade.

"We are encouraged by our results to start the year," Chief Executive Michel Doukeris said.

"The strength of the beer category, our diversified global footprint and the continued momentum of our mega brands delivered another quarter of broad-based top- and bottom-line growth."

Lacklustre improvements in the Asia-Pacific region and North America were offset by stronger growth in countries such as Mexico, Brazil and South Africa.

Normalised EBITDA, which measures the company's earnings before interest, taxes, and amortisation, increased by 5.4% to almost $5 billion (€4.65 billion).

AB InBev said it expects full-year EBITDA to grow in line with its medium-term outlook of between 4% and 8%.

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