2019 is off to a strong start as the world’s largest beer, AB InBev, accelerated its momentum from 4Q18 into a solid 1Q19 performance. Revenue grew by 5.9% driven by volume growth of 1.3% (own beer +1.0%, non-beer +4.9%) and revenue per hl growth of 4.6%, in line with our guidance for more balanced top-line growth.
The top-line result was driven by healthy performances in several of its key markets, including Brazil, China, the US, Europe, Colombia and Nigeria. We saw especially strong volume growth from markets such as Brazil, Nigeria, Europe, Peru and Colombia.
Across Africa excluding South Africa, the beer maker had continued volume growth in all of our markets except Mozambique, due to the devastating effects of a severe cyclone, and Tanzania, due to the later timing of the Easter holiday. Nigeria continues to lead the way with revenue per hl expansion and continued double-digit volume growth fueled by the core portfolio as well as Budweiser in the premium segment.
This was partially offset by softer volume results in markets such as South Africa and Argentina, where the consumer remains under pressure due to challenging macroeconomic conditions.
Furthermore, our results were held back by the later timing of the Easter holiday in markets for which this is an important consumption occasion, including the US, Mexico, Colombia, South Africa and Australia. We expect this impact to normalize on a half-year basis.
AB InBev, the world’s largest beer maker, recorded a 5.9% rise in revenue during its first quarter compared to the same period last year, boosted by growth in Brazil, China, the US, Europe, Colombia and Nigeria.
The brewer posted revenue of $12.59 billion in the three months to the end of March.
Total volumes grew by 1.3%, with own beer volumes up 1.0% and non-beer volumes up 4.9% Combined revenues of our three global brands, Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, grew by 8.5% globally, and by 14.0% outside of their respective home markets. Cost of Sales increased by 6.0% in 1Q 19 and by 4.6% on a per hl basis.
Within EMEA, Europe grew revenue by mid-single digits and delivered mid-single digit, broad-based volume growth and market share gains in the majority of markets in which we operate. The UK continues to deliver volume growth and market share gains, with both Budweiser and Bud Light growing double digits.
The launch of Budweiser has strengthened our portfolio in France, where we continue to gain market share with volume growth of mid-single digits. Additionally, Belgium grew volumes mid-single digits underpinned by gains both in on and off-premise.
Outlook for the rest of the year
In FY19, AB In Bev expects to deliver strong revenue and EBITDA growth, driven by the solid performance of our brand portfolio and strong commercial plans. Our growth model is even more focused on category expansion, targeting a more balanced top-line growth between volume and revenue per hl. We expect to deliver revenue per hl growth ahead of inflation based on premiumization and revenue management initiatives while keeping costs (sum of CoS plus SG&A) below inflation.
On synergies, the brewer maintains its3.2 billion USD synergy and cost savings expectation on a constant currency basis as of August 2016. From this total, 547 million USD was reported by former SAB as of 31 March 2016, and 2 491 million USD was captured between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2019. The balance of roughly 150 million USD is expected to be captured by the end of 2019.