BELGIUM: InBev 2004 volumes soar

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InBev posted a huge rise in total volume last year. The brewing giant has also confirmed its 2004 profit outlook.

In 2004, InBev realised a total volume of 156.8m hectolitres, 60% higher than the 97.9m hectolitres in 2003. Organic volume growth amounted to 3.2m hectolitres, up by 3.3%, which was approximately double the global industry growth rate, InBev said today (14 January).

AmBev's organic volume growth since the combination with Interbrew was 14.6% versus 2003. The total InBev organic volume growth for 2004, including AmBev volume since the combination, was 6.4%.

"The two global premium brands, Beck's and Stella Artois, grew by 5%, enhancing our profitability mix and leading our brand growth in markets around the world," the company said.

Organic volume growth in North America was up by 3%, led by stronger Beck's, Bass, and Stella Artois performances in the US import segment.  Overall, operations in Canada realised a stable volume performance.

In Western Europe, InBev's share increased in most markets, but volume declined organically by 2.3%.  "In the UK, due to our strategy that focused on value rather than volume, Stella Artois increased its value share, but lost some of its volume momentum," the company said. In Germany, the strong performance of the Beck's brands was not sufficient to offset the volume decline of the other major brands in the portfolio.

Central and Eastern Europe continued to be a strong growth driver for the group, with organic volume growth of 12.1%, driven by growth coming from innovation and core brands. In Central Europe, InBev outperformed the market, with excellent performances in Bulgaria and Romania. Both Russia and Ukraine delivered outstanding volume and market-share growth in Eastern Europe.

Organic volume in the Asia-Pacific Zone rose by 1.1%, mainly due to the excellent organic volume growth in China, which more than compensated for South Korea's volume softness. In China, the growth of the beer businesses acquired from Lion group was well ahead of expectations. In South Korea, volumes were slightly down.  However, following the successful launch of PET, InBev reached a share of over 50% in this more profitable segment.

"Fourth-quarter organic volume development was flat, globally, based on the less favourable economic and industry environment in most markets where we operate," InBev added.

The brewing giant said that it expects organic financial performance for 2004 to be broadly in line with what was achieved for the first nine months of the year.

Sectors: Beer & cider

Companies: Anheuser-Busch InBev

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