InBev sales off; Recall hurts Samuel Adams

Brewing giant InBev has reported disappointing first-quarter earnings, a combination of lower beer sales and higher ingredients prices.

In the United States, craft beer sales leader Boston Beer’s sales continued strong but the company lost money in the first quarter because of its bottle recall.

InBev, based in Belgium, predicted the second of the year would be stronger. Beer sales fell in key market Brazil, partly due to inflation, an early Carnival holiday season and poor weather conditions. In eastern Europe, another key driver of growth last year, volumes were off 5.7%.

Cost of sales grew by almost 10%. InBev said weighted average inflation in the countries in which it operated was moving towards a 5-6% range, higher than the 4% it had foreseen.

Boston Beer, brewer of the Samuel Adams beers, had a net loss for the quarter of $3.7 million, with the estimated negative impact of the recall on net income of $8.8 million. Its depletions from inventory increased 12%, indicating continued strong sales.

“We achieved 12% depletions growth in the first quarter over a very strong first quarter last year,” founder Jim Koch said. “We feel good about this growth and the continued overall positive craft beer category trends, even as our whole category has raised prices in the face of significant cost pressures.”

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