Higher malted barley sales and the recovery of tap beer underpinned a solid financial year result for Coopers, Australia’s largest independent family-owned brewery, in otherwise challenging trading conditions for the industry.
Coopers Brewery’s keg volumes rebounded from the pandemic lows, rising 26% over the 12 months to June 30, however, packaged beer sales were down 5%, reflecting a difficult 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 it was a steadfast result in a challenging economic environment.
“The national beer market remains subdued, impacting sales volumes across the country,” Dr Cooper said.
“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. It has been great to see people back in pubs. Our 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 crisis.”
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.