The world's largest brewer AB InBev said Thursday that its profits rose 50 percent last year, nearing its level before the Covid-19 pandemic forced shut pubs and bars worldwide.

The group, which includes the Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona brands, saw its net profit hit $5.7 billion in 2021 as the volume of beer it sold rose 9.6 percent to 582 million hectolitres, it said in a statement.

Revenues for the Belgian-Brazilian industry behemoth increased 15.6 percent to $54.3 billion.

Its core profit -- earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) -- rose by 11.8 percent to $19.2 billion.

"Compared to pre-pandemic levels, we grew top-line by more than 10 percent and nearly recovered EBITDA," said the statement from the brewer, which is based in the Belgian city of Leuven.

AB InBev is nearly back to pre-corona levels
AB InBev is nearly back to pre-corona levels AFP / Rodrigo ARANGUA

AB InBev, which has more than two billion consumers of its drinks in 150 countries, expects EBITDA to grow between four to eight percent this year.

CEO Michel Doukeris said "relentless execution of our strategy drove continued momentum."

"This year was an important step in our journey to create a future with more cheers," he said in a statement.

It also continued to reduce the massive debt that remains from buying out its biggest rival SABMiller in 2016.

Beer consumption plummeted in 2020 and last year as lockdown measures were imposed throughout the world to contain the coronavirus.