The Dutch brewer Heineken could see its volumes fall by half in the UK market with a corresponding profit fall of €20m (US$21.4m) this year, as its licensing agreement with Interbrew ends in the country, its CEO has said.

Heineken plans to replace its current UK arrangement, which sees Interbrew distribute Heineken Cold Filtered at 3.4% abv, when the contract expires this year. Instead it will export the full strength Heineken brand (at % abv) it sells worldwide into the UK.
Interbrew sold close to 2.2m hl of Cold Filtered and stronger Heineken Export last year, accounting for 4% of the UK market.

In an interview with news agency Reuters, Heineken chief executive Anthony Ruys said: "This move could cost us one to 1.5m hectolitres, but I am not worried. It may be less volume but it will be more profitable volume."

He went on to say that even if it took five years to return to previous volume levels, it would be worth it.

Worldwide, Ruys said he had over €1 billion (US$1.07 billion) a year to spend on future growth. The company, he said, will use its cashflow from developed markets in Western Europe and the US to invest in "countries with fantastic potential".

Heineken spent €1.2 billion on acquisitions last year, a level Ruys said it could now sustain to regain its position in the world league of brewers. In recent years the company has slipped from the world's number two brewer to number four.

In the interview, Ruys identified China, Latin America, Africa and Russia as good opportunities for growth.