Budvar, the Czech brewer that has been in a long legal dispute with U.S. company Anheuser-Busch over use of the “Budweiser” brand, increased its net profit by almost 10% last year amid record output as the pandemic saw people drink less in bars and more at home.
Budejovicky Budvar NP, a 125-year-old state-owned brewery, said Monday its net profit reached CZK 305 million ($14 million) in 2020. Its output rose 3.1% to a record of 1.73 million hectoliters last year.
Demand for its beer in tanks and barrels declined last year as bars and restaurants were closed for a long time, but Budvar was able to meet rising demand for bottled beer.
The brewer has been expanding in recent years to be able to produce more than 2 billion hectoliters (52.8 billion gallons) of beer a year. That investment made it possible to react to changes in the markets amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Budvar sells its beer in around 80 countries and Germany, one of its key markets, grew particularly strongly in 2020. Revenues also hit a record last year, growing 0.4% to CZK 2.81 billion.
Czech beer consumption in 2020 fell to its lowest level since the 1960s.
In 2020, the annual consumption reached 135 litres per capita, seven litres fewer than in the previous year. Meanwhile, Czech beer production reached 20.1 million hectolitres, a near seven percent drop from a record 21.6 million hectolitres in 2019. The beer sector has been affected not only by restaurant closures but also by the ban on alcohol consumption in public and the cancelation of sports and cultural events. Last year, sales of beer in glass bottles increased by six percentage points to 46 percent, while the amount of keg beer sold dropped by eight percentage points to 25 percent. The sale of beer in plastic bottles remained at 11 percent, while sales of canned beer increased by three percentage points, reaching 15 percent of the total.