In the 2022 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, Peter Bingeman, Sales Director at Carlton & United Breweries discusses how success has been driven by a strategy to support partners and current consumer tastes.

For the beer division of Carlton & United Breweries (CUB), 2021 was another unique year of ups and downs, according to Sales Director, Peter Bingeman.

“We experienced another challenging year filled with large momentum shifts. Pack beer sales continued to be strong, however our on-premise business was affected by the extended lockdowns in our two biggest states, New South Wales and Victoria. This put pressure on our customers and partners, and any challenge CUB experienced was nothing compared to what they went through,” Bingeman said.

CUB was inspired by the resilience of the hospitality industry during these tough times – it became hard not to be positive about the future when such on-premise partners were so optimistic about better times ahead.

2021 was also the first full year that CUB was part of Asahi Beverages, something which Bingeman said the business benefited from.

“This has given us greater structure and focus following the successful integration into Asahi. It’s a great business that is committed to growing and investing in Australia. It’s been really good to see the increased focus on innovation and sustainability,” he said.

Another impact on CUB’s beer division as of late has been the consumer shift to more moderation behaviours, leading to a growing thirst for no and low alcohol drinks alternatives.

“Our national launch of Great Northern Zero into the zero alc category was our star this year. CUB is now the market leader in this segment, which is really exciting,” Bingeman said.

Plans for the year ahead

In 2022, the focus for CUB on a beer front will be one that it has always strived to maintain – supporting its partners and keeping ahead of the latest trends.

“Our continued focus will be to build strong partnerships with our customers by doubling down on driving category growth. We’ll do this through partnering with our on-premise customers to encourage more people back into pubs, clubs and bars and investing behind global trends like wellbeing and the explosion of craft beer to continue to drive growth with our retail partners,” Bingeman said.

It remains difficult to predict how the year ahead will go in terms of pandemic related restrictions, however CUB is confident it is well positioned to deliver for consumers when the time is right to get back to social occasions, both on- and off-premise. The challenge will be predicting when this bounce back will happen, and how consumers will react.

“Whilst I think there are many unknowns, I am cautiously optimistic about the beer category in 2022. I really believe that consumers will remember how much fun it is to visit pubs and clubs or catch up at parties and BBQs, leading to more occasions for people to celebrate with a refreshing beverage in their hand,” Bingeman said.

One issue that CUB wants to tackle along the way this year is the beer excise tax – for draught beer, this is now the fourth highest of the OECD countries and it increases twice a year. Bingeman said CUB is committed to working with the Australian Hotels Association and Clubs Australia to fight for a reduction.

“It’s just not right. It’s making beer less affordable and putting a lot of pressure on an industry that’s already got enough challenges,” he said.

Read more from the 2022 National Liquor News Leaders Forum here, including an interview with CUB’s Michael Ritoli, who heads up the non-beer side of the business.

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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