In the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, Danny Celoni, CEO of CUB, described impressive performance and development across both the beer and non-beer side of the business.

After stepping into the top role of CEO at Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) at the start of 2022, Danny Celoni saw a lot during the year that impressed him.

“I’ve really enjoyed coming back into this fantastic industry. What has impressed me the most was the absolutely brilliant people across the entire industry. The passion, dedication and genuine underlying commitment to make our industry great is second to none in my personal view,” he said.

Although Celoni describes 2022 as “a year that certainly threw everything at our industry and CUB”, he counts himself as incredibly lucky to be part of the fantastic team at CUB and its parent company, Asahi Beverages.

“From the ongoing impact of the pandemic to supply chain and logistic challenges, raw material challenges, hospitality staff shortages, inflation, interest rate rises and floods, there was no shortage of headwinds,” Celoni said.

“Our people took all these challenges in their stride and together we reinvented ourselves where we needed to, to ensure that we continue to show up for our customers and our consumers in the way that they need us to.”

A key highlight of Celoni’s first year was getting out into the trade to meet as many of these customers as possible, to help ensure CUB could listen and understand their perspectives and therefore improve the way it operates as an organisation and an industry partner.

“We have a hunger for growth, we have a hunger for collaboration and we have a hunger to ensure we play a leading role in expanding the categories we operate in. We are absolutely committed to continuing to show up in a way that drives incremental value to our customers on a day-to-day basis,” Celoni noted.

Momentum across CUB and CUB Premium Beverages

Since the merger of CUB and Asahi Beverages, two distinct entities operate, to house each side of the business. The beer side is known as CUB, while the non-beer side of operations is CUB Premium Beverages.

Viewing results at the top of both sides of the business, Celoni said he is “very proud of what the team delivered in 2022” for all types of beverages.

“We were able to continue our momentum across the portfolios with really strong performances. Our core brands Great Northern, VB, Carlton Draught, Asahi Super Dry and Peroni continued to perform above category averages. Our craft portfolio including Balter, Pirate Life and 4 Pines had a very strong year of double digit growth. Our broader RTD portfolio, including Vodka Cruiser, Brookvale Union, Good Tides Seltzer and Woodstock, also continued their momentum and growth,” Celoni said.

A focus on continuing these great results across all sectors of the wider CUB portfolio will be seen in 2023 as well, as the team seeks to drive growth both for the business and its customers.

“Our focus in 2023 will be to further strengthen our portfolio across the whole multi-beverage spectrum. Our team, in partnership with our customers, has built great momentum across the whole portfolio and we’re committed to continuing this into 2023 and beyond,” said Celoni

“The team is passionate about driving category growth across the industry and we will scale up our focus on customers to ensure our collaboration agendas take us to the next level together.”

Ambitious sustainability goals

Being proudly part of Asahi Beverages, CUB is involved with some of the company’s clear and ambitious sustainability goals. In 2022, this saw CUB make several sustainable moves across the country.

One example Celoni noted was from the Abbotsford Brewery, which: “brewed its 50 millionth beer using the power of the sun in 2022.

“The sustainability milestone was achieved after the 118-year-old brewery – Melbourne’s oldest and most well-known – installed more than 4000 solar panels.”

Solar power was meanwhile continued at CUB’s Yatala brewery on the Gold Coast, which is the biggest brewery in the country.

“This is helping us achieve our goal of sourcing 100 per cent of our purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025,” Celoni said.

Solar was also the theme for a partnership with CUB’s Victoria Bitter VB brand and Dan Murphy’s, which created a first-of-its-kind Solar Exchange program. The program allows beer lovers to exchange the credit on their power bills from generating excess solar for VB in participating stores, via Diamond Energy.

Sustainability was also a focus in the agricultural supply chain, where CUB supported Australian farmers by stopping imports of raspberries from Poland in favour of Tasmanian producers. These raspberries are pressed and processed locally at Cascade Brewery in Hobart, before being used in Mercury Cider, and also some of Asahi’s non-alcoholic beverage brands like Spring Valley fruit juice, Cottee’s cordial and Pop Tops.

Of all these developments, Celoni said: “We’re incredibly excited about building on this momentum in 2023 – creating a more sustainable business and offering our customers and consumers more sustainable beverages.”

Innovation to overcome challenges

Of course, the current climate being experienced across the industry will likely lead to 2023 being another year with its own unique set of challenges, some of which persist from 2022.

However, as Celoni noted: “We are already thinking through how we can thrive through these challenges across our portfolio via our innovation agenda and the initiatives we intend to drive in the industry to ensure that collectively we play a role in helping navigate these challenges.”

While it may be easy to knuckle down and stay in one place in difficult times, Celoni said CUB will be using any challenges of the year ahead in a positive way.

“There are opportunities in these challenges to rethink the way we work, to rethink our portfolio and how it supports our customers, and to rethink the way we need to work as an organisation to ensure what we do has a positive impact,” Celoni concluded.

Star performers of 2022

Within the great success of the wider CUB and CUB Premium Beverages portfolio in 2022, Celoni said there are some extra bright spots. Reflecting on on-premise performance shows the overall industry strength of key brands including:

  • “Balter continues to be a shining star – it’s now the number one craft masterbrand on tap while Balter XPA is the number one individual craft tap brand by tap count nationally.”
  • “Great Northern keeps impressing us by continuing to resonate for consumers very well across the country. Nationally on tap it has had another year of strong growth in 2022.”
  • “In RTD, Brookvale Union is doing extremely well. It continues to challenge in the RTD space by offering patrons a refreshing point of difference from regular beer. Brookvale Union Ginger Beer’s growth has not slowed down and it looks to continue into 2023.”

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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