In the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, Coopers reflects on a milestone year and what is to come in its positive future.

Coopers Brewery celebrated 160 years of brewing in 2022, marking the occasion with a limited edition Red Ale and a celebration in its home state of South Australia.

At the event, Coopers Managing Director, Dr Tim Cooper, hailed the organisation’s ability to survive ‘near death experiences’ – such as war, recession and takeover bids.

“This was a fitting reflection as the past has shaped the company and is reflected in our mission and vision statements, as well as our guiding principles which provide direction on the way forward,” says Michael Shearer, General Manager at Coopers.

Yet, it was not a time solely for introspection at the brewery, which took significant steps to shape the next 160 years of the business.

“The celebration also coincided with our exciting new brand refresh and advertising campaign focused on the tag line ‘Forever Original’ and emphasis on ‘Roll The Beer. Unlock The Flavour’,” said Shearer.

Commercially, 2022 saw the brewery also ink significant deals with overseas beer giants.

“During the year, we renewed our manufacturing and distribution agreements with Sapporo and Carlsberg and commenced a contract manufacturing arrangement with Molson Coors International for the Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Chill and Coors brands,” Shearer adds.

Most importantly, the company has invested heavily in its production capacity – which will allow Coopers to enter new categories.

“We ended the year having broken ground on a $50 million brand home development which will start to take shape over the coming months,” Shearer says.

“The development incorporates a worldclass visitor centre, microbrewery, whisky distillery and underground cellar. This investment will position us well for the future, with visitors able to enjoy an authentic and immersive cellar door experience.”

Pleasing results during difficult circumstances

As Shearer explains: “We recorded total beer sales, excluding non-alcoholic, of 79.4 million litres for the 2022 financial year, a decline of 3.5 per cent from the previous year’s volume of 82.3 million litres.”

Nevertheless, Shearer says that Coopers remained assured with this performance, believing it to be aligned with wider experiences of the beer industry and still satisfying, given supply and demand pressures at large.

“Beer sales have been impacted by the weather being colder and wetter, while freight and logistics disruptions hampered export trade,” he said.

And there is tangible proof of this strong showing across the last 12 months.

“Having Coopers Pale Ale recognised in the number four top selling brands in Australia, and the only beer in the top 10 owned by an Australian company, is also a reflection of our diverse consumer base, as well as the hard work of our sales, marketing and production teams,” Shearer suggests.

2022 saw Coopers introduce a couple of exciting new products – notably, the brewery’s first ever mid-strength lager, and larger 440ml cans of the popular Coopers Sparkling Ale. Shearer tells National Liquor News that there’s more to come for the year ahead.

“We continue to listen to our consumers and provide the products and pack formats they are looking for, whilst maintaining a focus on delivering the quality and consistency they have come to expect,” he said.

“We always have NPD on the go, so you should expect to see a couple of exciting new offerings this year.”

This said, Shearer is not expecting the new year to be one of significant quantity growth for the category.

“With considerable inflationary pressures on the inputs to production, combined with the bi-annual CPI linked excise increases… It is difficult to see any real volume growth.”

Find more from the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum here.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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