Heineken European Volumes Slump in Q1, Premium Portfolio in Nigeria Grew By More Than 40%

Insider Dealing: Heineken buys more stakes in Nigerian Breweries Plc

Heineken N.V. publishes its trading update today for the first quarter of 2021. The Heineken® brand had a strong performance, well ahead of the overall market, growing 12.1% in the quarter.

The world’s second-largest beer maker – and owner of brands such as Tiger, Cruzcampo and Amstel stated that volume grew double-digits in more than 40 markets, including Brazil, South Africa, China, Vietnam, Nigeria, Colombia, Argentina, France, Poland and Laos.

Heineken® 0.0 grew double-digits with strong momentum in Brazil, Mexico and the USA. Heineken® 0.0 is now available in 94 markets.


The brewer reported that the premium volume outperformed growth in the low-teens.

Africa, Middle East & Eastern Europe

  • Beer volume increased organically by 9.9% with most markets contributing, with a particularly strong performance in Nigeria and South Africa. Our premium portfolio grew by double-digits, driven by Heineken®.
  • In Nigeria, total volume grew in the mid-teens, held back by supply constraints. The premium portfolio grew by more than forty percent, led by Heineken® and Tiger. The low- and non-alcoholic portfolio grew more than thirty percent, led by Maltina. Maltina is growing, reinforcing its credentials with the launch of the two new flavours to appeal to the dynamic taste of Nigerians.
  • In Nigeria, Heineken signed an agreement with the Government of Ogun State to carry out water balancing through reforestation at the Olokemeji Forest.

Insider Dealing: Heineken buys more stakes in Nigerian Breweries Plc

  • In South Africa, total volume grew in the high twenties, benefiting from low end-year stocks and the increased output of our Sedibeng brewery after completion of the expansion projects. Alcohol bans were in place during January and over Easter weekend.
  • In Russia, beer volume increased in the mid-teens following destocking last year. The premium portfolio grew in the mid-thirties, led by Dr Diesel.
  • In Ethiopia, beer volume grew by a mid-single-digit, ahead of the market, led by the strong double-digit growth of our premium portfolio, mainly Bedele Special.
  • In Egypt, total volume declined in the high-teens, driven by significantly lower international tourism and a recent price increase on non-alcoholic beverages.

On 19 April the brand launched the latest edition of its #SocialiseResponsibly campaign ‘WE’LL MEET AGAIN’. The campaign celebrates people’s resilience and creativity over the last year and highlights how people found inventive ways to keep the spirit of ‘going out’ alive from the safety of their own homes.


  • Beer volume declined organically by 9.7%, driven by a decline of around two thirds in the on-trade as lockdowns were in place throughout the entire quarter. The off-trade grew in the low teens, with continued market share momentum in most markets. Third-party volume declined by 60.7% as wholesale operations continued to be impacted by outlet closures. The premium portfolio continued to outperform in the off-trade.
  • In the UK, total volume was down around thirty percent due to on-trade volume close to zero. The off-trade grew ahead of the market in the low-thirties, driven by Heineken®, Strongbow, and Birra Moretti. Pub gardens began to reopen in mid-April.
  • In France, beer volume increased by a low-single-digit. The growth in the off-trade was ahead of the market and more than offset the decline of around ninety percent in the on-trade. The premium portfolio grew by a high-single-digit driven by Desperados.
  • In Spain, beer volume declined in the low-teens, driven by a decline in the on-trade in the high-twenties. The off-trade grew by a mid-single-digit, ahead of the market, led by Heineken®, El Águila and Desperados.
  • In Italy, beer volume increased by a mid-single-digit, with growth in the low-teens in the off-trade more than offsetting a decline in the mid-teens in the on-trade. The premium portfolio grew in the low-teens, driven by the strong performance of Ichnusa and Messina.
  • In Poland, beer volume declined by a high-single-digit, driven by the economic segment. The premium portfolio grew by double-digits, driven by the strong growth of Heineken® and Desperados.
  • In the Netherlands, beer volume was down in the low-twenties as the growth in the off-trade only partially offset the over eighty percent decline in on-trade volume. We launched Birra Moretti in March.
  • Beerwulf, our direct-to-consumer platform in Europe, continued its strong momentum and more than doubled its revenue in the quarter.
  • On 15 March 2021, HEINEKEN announced the launch of Pure Piraña in Europe. The hard seltzer will be available soon in Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, with other markets joining this year.


On 10 February 2021, we introduced our new company strategy EverGreen. EverGreen builds on our unique strengths to ensure we emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, deliver superior and profitable growth in a fast-changing world, with consumers and customers at the forefront of everything we do.

In addition to the relevant developments on the growth component of EverGreen included in our volume performance, further relevant highlights of EverGreen are included below.

We have started to deploy our productivity improvement programme. In particular, the organisational redesign of the head office became effective on 1 April this year. The programme will continuously develop productivity initiatives and cultivate a cost-conscious culture.

We reached an important milestone in our digital transformation. In April we executed the first transactions on our new standardised transactional finance backbone for Europe in two operating companies. The roll-out to the rest of Europe will continue until the end of 2022.

As part of EverGreen, we are raising the bar with our Brew a Better World 2030 ambitions on environmental sustainability, social sustainability and responsible consumption of alcohol.

For example, we announced a new ambition to decarbonise our own production by 2030 and a full value chain by 2040. All our production sites will become carbon neutral by maximising energy efficiency and renewable energy use by 2030. For more details, please refer to our press release of 15 April 2021. This is the first in a series of refreshed Brew a Better World 2030 ambitions, with more to come shortly.


The reported net profit for the first three months of 2021 was €168 million (2020: €94 million; 2019: €299 million). The effect from lower on-trade volume in Europe was more than offset by the performance of other regions and continued cost mitigation efforts.


The outlook statements shared on 10 February 2021 remain unchanged. Our business continues to be significantly impacted by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect market conditions to gradually improve into the second part of the year, depending on the roll-out of vaccines.

Our highest priority throughout the COVID-19 crisis has been and continues to be the health and safety of our people. Our teams have demonstrated great resilience and agility as the crisis prolongs and recovery levels vary market-to-market. We continue to support our employees, customers, suppliers and communities most impacted by the pandemic. For example, in the UK, we continue to support our customers financially and waived €19 million in rental payments last quarter. In Brazil, we joined the “Salvando Vidas” match-funding initiative of the Development Bank of Brazil (BNDES), to invest in 4 oxygen plants and aid more than 40 philanthropic hospitals with medical supplies in the fight against COVID-19.

In March 2021 we began to lap the first round of severe lockdowns in March 2020. Beer volume in the first quarter was in line with last year, organically (2.1% below the first quarter of 2019). We delivered strong growth in the Africa, Middle East & Eastern Europe and Asia Pacific regions and modest growth in the Americas, offset by the decline in Europe where the on-trade remained largely closed throughout the quarter. At the start of April less than 30% of the on-trade in Europe was operating.

We are bringing our EverGreen balanced growth strategy to life across the business, focusing on delivering superior and profitable top-line growth. 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. Throughout our volume update below we share some of the most relevant developments.