AB InBev results show North American boom in premium off-trade during COVID-19, says GlobalData

AB InBev announced double-digit growth in its off-trade business in Q1 of 2021. This reveals the continued viability for premiumization in developed markets, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Ryan Whittaker, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “AB InBev’s results suggest that North America is still buying premium beers, and this is buoying regional beer markets. The closure of on-trade outlets, such as pubs, clubs and restaurants in 2021 had a massive impact on brewers like AB InBev that account for close to a quarter of global pints. However, it appears that consumers in more developed economies have continued to seek out AB InBev’s premium products through brands such as Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona.”

GlobalData’s Q1 2021 consumer survey found that 42%* of global consumers reported that they were spending medium-to-high amounts on beer brands, with 45%** of consumers buying them through supermarkets and hypermarkets.

Whittaker continues: “This is what we’d expect due to lockdowns and social distancing, with on-trade only beginning to make a comeback. Furthermore, GlobalData’s survey found that North American consumers were more likely to spend medium-to-high amounts on brands than other regions, followed by Europe and Asia and Australasia.

“AB InBev’s extremely large portfolio of brands and logistics mean that it is well-positioned to come out of the other side of the pandemic fighting. While the company racked up debt purchasing SABMiller in 2016, it’s such a global powerhouse that its long-term profitability is going to be reliable and assured.”

The early 2021 successes attest to a healthy demand for beer at home, and with a resumption of on-trade business on the horizon in high-vaccination markets like Israel and the UK, the outlook is positive for the brewer for the foreseeable future.

Whittaker adds: “It will be absolutely essential for other brands to get their more expensive brands to the on-trade channels in North America and Europe as they begin to open up.”

* GlobalData’s 2021 Q1 Consumer Survey, March 2021, combining answers “medium” and “high-end/premium versions of these products (beer)” and “high – I buy large portions/buy more frequently”

** GlobalData’s 2021 Q1 Consumer Survey, March 2021

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