Heineken has reported flat beer volumes in the first quarter of its financial year, a performance that chief executive Dolf van den Brink described as "a solid start to the year".
Beer volumes in Europe were down 9.7% on an organic basis, the group said, however in Africa, they rose 9.9%, in the Americas region they rose 0.8%, and in Asia-Pacific volumes were up 5.4%.
Its core Heineken brand, meanwhile, outperformed expectations in terms of performance, with volumes rising by 12.1% overall.
Heineken volumes in Europe were down 4.6%, but this was offset by a 22.4% rise in Africa, Middle East & Eastern Europe, a 17.5% increase in Americas, and a 21.8% increase in Asia-Pacific.
Heineken volumes grew by double-digits in more than 40 markets, including Brazil, South Africa, China, Vietnam, Nigeria, Colombia, Argentina, France, Poland and Laos, it added.
"We had a solid start to the year, despite facing severe restrictions across many markets and the closure of the on-trade in Europe due to the pandemic," said van den Brink.
"Overall beer volume was in line with last year, with strong growth in Africa, Middle East & Eastern Europe and Asia Pacific and modest growth in the Americas."
March 2021 saw the group begin to 'lap the first round' of severe lockdowns in March 2020, and the company said that the continued closure of the on-trade impacted its performance in Europe particularly.
'At the start of April, less than 30% of the on- trade in Europe was operating,' it noted.
The group also announced positive strides in its EverGreen growth strategy, including its ambition to become carbon neutral by 2040.
"We are bringing our EverGreen balanced growth strategy to life across the business, focusing on delivering superior and profitable top-line growth," said van den Brink.
"We are amplifying our strong premium position to capture the growing opportunity of premiumisation. We are expanding our portfolio by stretching and moving beyond beer into products such as ciders, hard seltzers and other beverages to better serve consumers. We are shaping and strengthening our digital route to consumer."
In terms of new sales channels, Heineken reported that Beerwulf, its direct-to-consumer platform in Europe, 'continued its strong momentum and more than doubled its revenue in the quarter'. [Pic: ©Bizoon/123RF.COM]