PRAGUE (AP) — Budvar, the Czech brewer that has been in a long legal dispute with U.S. beer giant Anheuser-Busch over use of the Budweiser brand, increased its net profit by some 10% for the second straight year as it saw record output and exports despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Budejovicky Budvar NP, a 126-year-old state-owned brewery, said its net profit reached 337 million Czech crowns ($14.4 million) in 2021, up from 305 million the previous year. Its net profit was up nearly 10% in 2020.
Its exports were up a record 11% in 2021, reaching 1.3 million hectoliters (34.3 million gallons). Budvar sells its beer in more than 70 countries, with Germany among its major markets.
Budvar also registered record output for the second straight pandemic year, rising 4.6% to 1.8 million hectoliters (47.8 million gallons).
The pandemic affected the beer markets, with demand for beer in tanks and barrels declining as bars and restaurants closed for some time but demand for bottled beer rising.
The brewer has expanded in recent years to produce more than 2 million hectoliters (52.8 million gallons) of beer annually. That investment helped it react to changes in the markets during the pandemic.
A recent suggestion by the TOP 09 conservative party, a member of the ruling coalition, that Budvar might be privatized because it is not the role of the state to brew beer received mostly negative responses. The government has not discussed the issue yet.
Budvar and Anheuser-Busch have been in a trademark dispute over the Budweiser brand since 1906. Anheuser-Busch joined AB InBev in 2008.
Budvar holds exclusive rights to sell Budweiser beer in most major European markets, including Germany. But in the United Kingdom, both Budvar and AB InBev can sell Budweiser after a court ruled that consumers can tell the difference between the two. AB InBev is significantly bigger.