Coopers Brewery recorded a 3.9% rise in total beer sales for the 12 months to June 30, 2020 underpinned by increased demand for its portfolio of cans.
“In a time of such uncertainty, Australian beer drinkers appear to be choosing brands they feel they can trust,” said Dr Tim Cooper, Managing Director and Head Brewer of the brewery.
“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.”
Total beer sales for the iconic brewery, excluding non-alcoholic beers, rose during the financial year to 79.8 million litres, up from the 76.8 million litres of last year.
Coopers’ growing portfolio of cans continues to strike a chord amongst a broader consumer demographic, 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, has also enjoyed a resurgence among Australian consumers, with sales hitting their highest levels in more than half a century.
The results are consistent with national consumer trends towards trusted, reliable and locally made beer brands. Drinks Trade has previously reported on the strategy for major retailers including Dan Murphy’s, BWS and Liquorland to stock liquor from local breweries as well as the launch of Sessions retailers in Melbourne by Paramount Liquor where each suburban retailer will be carefully curated to reflect the consumer tastes of their community.
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.
Conversely, sales of Coopers international partner brand beers fell 2.5% during the financial year, and 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. 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,” Dr Cooper said.
“We’re planning more campaigns and events to assist venues on the road to recovery over the coming months.”
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.
Fully franked dividends of $12 per share were paid in the 2020 financial year, down from $13 last year. This is the first time Coopers has declared a reduced dividend since 1994 and reflects the conservative position taken by the Board in a period of uncertainty.