Coopers Brewery has recorded a 3.9% rise in total beer sales for the 12 months to June 30, 2020, despite a downturn in keg sales due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The drop in draught beer sales was off-set by increased demand for Coopers’ portfolio of cans, with XPA, Pale Ale and Sparkling Ale among the standouts in this packaging format.
Coopers Best Extra Stout, one of the brewery’s oldest beers, also enjoyed a resurgence among Australian consumers, with sales hitting their highest levels in more than half a century.
“In a time of such uncertainty, Australian beer drinkers appear to be choosing brands they feel they can trust,” Managing Director Dr Tim Cooper said.
“The pandemic has had a significant impact on Australia’s hospitality industry and our keg sales in particular suffered as a result.
“To have emerged in an overall strong position is testament to the loyalty of beer drinkers, the sheer resilience of hoteliers and publicans and the determination of our team at Coopers Brewery. We’re looking to the year ahead with cautious optimism.”
The news follows Coopers being named one of the Top 10 craft breweries in Australia in the 2020 Australian Craft Beer Survey by Beer Cartel.
Total beer sales, excluding non-alcoholic beers, for the financial year rose to 79.8 million litres, up from the 76.8 million litres recorded for the previous year.
Across the states, sales volumes increased as follows, apart from a small decline in the NT:
• 13.6% in Western Australia
• 5.8% in New South Wales
• 4.4% in Queensland
• 2.7% in Victoria
• 0.4% in South Australia
• -1.3% in the Northern Territory
Sales of Coopers international partner brand beers also fell 2.5% during the financial year.
Initiatives to assist the on-premise during COVID-19
Coopers’ keg sales fell 24.4% as social restrictions kept patrons away from pubs across the country.
“We introduced a number of initiatives to support hotels and venues over this challenging time, including offering refunds on full kegs returned to the company,” Dr Cooper said. “In total, 13,000 kegs were collected from venues across Australia at a cost of over $3 million.
“We also launched our online Live, Loud and Local series, a unique ‘virtual pub’ experience featuring A-list musicians, chefs and celebrities showcasing pub culture at its best.
“We’re planning more campaigns and events to assist venues on the road to recovery over the coming months.”
Home brew on the rise
Coopers also posted a strong increase in sales of DIY brew kits arising from higher demand during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Although retail sales experienced a decline in the first half of the financial
year, outstanding growth of 166% in the last four months resulted in DIY beer concentrate sales rising by 6%, from 2,600 tonnes last year to 2,757 tonnes this year.
Malted barley production – sales of which now represent around 10% of Coopers’ revenue – increased 30%, from 44,300 tonnes to 57,900 tonnes, reflecting a growing demand across Asia for high-quality malt.
Profit-before-tax for 2019-20 was $34.3 million, similar to the level recorded in the 2018 financial year, and a strong recovery from the $23.1 million recorded in the 2019 financial year.