Heineken has reported that its beer sales have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, with global beer volume sales falling 14% in March.

Heineken – which owns major beer brands including its namesake Heineken brand, Amstel and Sol – reported in its first-quarter results that beer volume for the quarter fell 2.1%, largely driven by declines in March across its global units.

Beer volumes fell 13.8% in the Americas, Heineken’s largest market, and declined 15.3% in Europe, 14.5% in Africa Middle East & Eastern Europe, and 10.6% in Asia Pacific during March.

The company’s profits were also significantly impacted by Covid-19, as reported net profit for the first three months of 2020 was €94 million, representing a 68%.In Europe, Heineken’s wholesale operations were significantly impacted as third-party volume declined 17.8% in the quarter and 49.2% in March, as on-trade outlets closed due to lockdown measures and social distancing orders in multiple countries.

Despite falls across the company’s complete beer portfolio, the Heineken brand actually experienced volume growth of 5% during the quarter. This was driven by a 24.5% increase in the Americas and double-digit in growth in Brazil, China, the UK and several other markets.

Heineken estimates that the impact of coronavirus is expected to worsen in the second quarter of 2020, while the second half of the year is also expected to be impacted “as lockdowns may be lifted but the impact on the economy is likely to remain.”During the first quarter of 2020, the Covid-19 outbreak has evolved into a pandemic. By now, most countries where we operate have reacted by taking far-reaching containment measures such as restrictions of movement for populations and outlet closures, sometimes combined with the mandatory lockdown of production facilities.

“Our performance for the first quarter reflects the initial impact of those measures, and volumes in March were obviously heavily affected.

“Heineken has entered the crisis with strong brands and a strong balance sheet. In the past few weeks we have taken necessary measures to reduce our costs, secure additional financing and adapt to the fast changes we see in our markets.

“I am proud of the leadership, the commitment and the courage of our teams and I fully trust their talent, creativity and energy to steer Heineken through this unprecedented situation and protect as well as develop our brands and businesses.”