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THE HAGUE: Dutch brewer Heineken said Wednesday it bounced back to profit in 2021 but warned that its prices would rise this year to cope with soaring inflation and supply chain bottlenecks.

The world’s second biggest beer maker after AB InBev posted a net profit of 3.3 billion euros ($3.8 billion) last year as Covid lockdowns were lifted in Europe. The group — which produces more than 300 brands, including Amstel, Strongbow cider and Tiger — had fallen in the red when the pandemic emerged in 2020.

The company sold 4.6 percent more beer last year, with growth in every region except Asia-Pacific, according to its annual earnings statement. The quantity was also “well ahead” of 2019, before the pandemic pummelled the world economy.

Heineken’s revenue rose 11.8 percent to 26.6 billion euros. The global economic recovery from the Covid crisis has been accompanied by decades-high inflation and supply chain disruptions as demand surged following the recession. Companies have warned they still face rising costs this year. Danish brewer Carlsberg announced this month it would raise beer prices in 2022 to offset increasing raw material prices.

Heineken said it will “continue to navigate an uncertain environment and expect Covid-19 to still have an impact on revenues” in 2022. “We also expect to be significantly impacted by inflation and supply chain resilience pressures,” the group said.

The company said costs would rise due to sharp increases in the prices of commodities, energy and freight. “We will offset these input cost increases through pricing in absolute terms, which may lead to softer beer consumption,” Heineken said.

Heineken chief executive Dolf Van Den Brink said the company had “made a big step towards recovering to pre-pandemic levels”. “Looking ahead, although the speed of recovery remains uncertain and we face significant inflationary challenges, we are encouraged by the strong performance of our business,” he said in a statement.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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