The beer maker saw revenues for the quarter rise by 8.8 per cent to $10.29bn (£6.8bn) but warned sales in the first part of the year could be hit by lower beer volumes in key markets such as China and the US.
Despite the warning, the company posted its first volume increase in the US since 2008 last year following the successful launches of new premium beers such as Budweiser Black Crown, a stronger version of the American classic and Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, a margarita drink.
Full-year total volumes were flat, rising by 0.3 per cent as losses in Central & Eastern Europe (-11.3 per cent) continued to impact sales. In the UK, volumes tumbled by 8.3 per cent as a result of growing competition on the off-trade and a weak industry.
The business said it will now ramp up the activity around its premiumisation strategy for brands including Stella Artois and Budweiser as part of a wider move to increase spend on sales and marketing by “high single digits”. The company’s strategy has focused on positioning several of its key brands as premium in its key markets through product extensions and packaging changes.
The investment will also see the business grow its analytics offering as it looks to develop“in-depth” insights into consumers’ drinking preferences to develop new products including non-alcoholic drinks.
It is hoped the activity will open new drinking occasions and help stimulate sales.
The brewer said: “We are using in-depth insights into consumer preferences to develop new products that can be enjoyed responsibly on more occasions. We believe that our efforts to develop global brands, grow the premium segment, expand consumer choice, and share more enjoyment occasions with consumers will contribute to the long-term success of both AB InBev and the beer industry.”
Meanwhile rival Heineken said it will boost the marketing support for its premium word beer brands such as Birra Morretti and Desperados after reporting a 7.4 per cent rise in full year revenues to €18,4bn. The brewer is hoping to drive up value sales in Western Europe after the region was the only one of the brewer’s regions to see a fall in sales.