Keg sales for Coopers Brewery have risen as Australians return to pubs and licensed venues across the country.
Higher malted barley sales and the recovery of tap beer underpinned what the brewer described as a “solid financial year result” in what was described as “challenging trading conditions for the industry”.
While Coopers keg volumes in pubs rebounded from the pandemic lows, rising 26% over the 12 months to June 30, packaged beer sales were down 5%, reflecting the tough retail market.
Keg sales remained down 14% on pre-COVID levels of the 2019 financial year. Coopers recorded total beer sales, excluding non-alcoholic beers, of 77.6 million litres for the 2023 financial year. This represented a slight 2.3% fall on the 2022 financial year volume of 79.4 million litres.
Coopers Managing Director Dr Tim Cooper said: “The national beer market remains subdued, impacting sales volumes across the country,
“However, Coopers outperformed the national market in the latter half of the financial year, holding steady while overall industry volumes started to fall from April.
“A highlight has been the return of patronage to hospitality venues following the industry lows experienced during the pandemic shutdowns.”
Dr Cooper said it had been great to see people back in pubs, with Coopers keg sales reflected this trend and were approaching pre-COVID levels at the end of the financial year. However, they are now slightly under pressure due to the cost-of-living
Within Coopers’ packaged beer, the popularity of cans continues to rise. Cans now represent 37% of packaged beer sales.
Coopers’ malted barley sales tonnage rose 12.6% with exports to food and beverage manufacturers in Asia up by 26%. Homebrew sales were depressed despite cost-of-living pressures which would traditionally fuel higher demand for DIY brewing.
Profit-before-tax for the 2023 financial year was $28.5 million, compared with $27.3 million the previous year. Revenue increased by 5.9% to $287 million, aided by the introduction of a new contract packaging arrangement.
“There is no doubt the beer market in Australia faces challenges brought on by increasing cost-of-living pressures, market concentration and excessive taxation on beer,” Dr Cooper said.
“Among this backdrop, we at Coopers maintain our focus on brewing excellence and providing real value-for-money across all our products. Our consumer research continues to highlight the move towards authentic brands that can be trusted, are high-quality and affordable.
“We are entering the important summer period with optimism and a positive outlook. During the year, we completed our first major update to our core packaging in 20 years, and we are pleased to be offering an enhanced product portfolio to the market.”
The 2023 financial year results do not capture the recent sales of Coopers’ latest release, Australian Lager. Coopers said the new beer had performed strongly since it hit the market in August and is the brewery’s new flagship lager offering in Australia’s largest beer style category.
Whisky distillery nears completion
Coopers’ new brand home development, incorporating a world-class visitor centre, microbrewery and whisky distillery, is taking shape on the Regency Park site, ahead of an expected opening next year.
The microbrewery and whisky distillery plant and equipment have been constructed in England and Scotland and are expected to arrive at Coopers in coming weeks ready for installation.
“This is a significant and very exciting undertaking for Coopers. We’re pleased with the progress to-date and look forward to welcoming visitors from across Australia and overseas once it’s completed,” Dr Cooper said.
Meanwhile, the Coopers charitable foundation distributed $645,000 to 19 charitable projects during the year. In total, more than $7 million has been donated by the Coopers Foundation since its formation in 2006.