AB InBev, the world’s top brewer, said Tuesday sales and net profits edged higher in the third quarter despite a drop in sales volume, in particular in the US where Bud Light has been boycotted by conservative figures.
Inflation has forced many firms to raise prices, often leading to increases in revenue even though volume dips as consumers cut back consumption a bit.
AB InBev, whose brands including Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, saw its third quarter sales revenue rise by 3.2 per cent even as sales volumes sank by 3.4 per cent.
Net profit rose by 3 percent from the July-September period last year to $1.73 billion (£1.42), but that is down considerably from the 9 per cent and 7 per cent profit growth in the first and second quarters, respectively.
“The strength of our global footprint delivered another quarter of top- and bottom-line growth,” chief executive Michel Doukeris said in the company’s earnings statement.
But sales volumes in the US plunged by a fifth in the third quarter, “primarily due to the volume decline of Bud Light”, the brewer said.
AB InBev found itself in the crosshairs of a US culture war earlier this year after partnering with a transgender influencer to promote Bud Light, leading to a boycott by conservative figures.
“The fallout from the controversial and poorly received marketing campaign on Bud Light hasn’t helped” the company’s performance, said equity analyst Aarin Chiekrie at Hargreaves Lansdown.
The worst of the fallout may be behind it, he added.
Bud Light sales look to have bottomed out, rebasing around 30 percent lower,” Chiekrie said.
Nine month sales volumes in the US were down 12.5 per cent, and 1.4 per cent globally.
AB InBev confirmed its 2023 outlook for a 4-8 per cent increase in operating profit, with larger revenue gains thanks to “a healthy combination of volume and price”.
Meanwhile, Danish brewer Carlsberg also reported a drop in beer sales by volume in the third quarter by 2.1 per cent, blaming wet summer weather.
Revenue edged higher to 20.3 billion kroner (£2.39bn). The company does not release quarterly profit figures.