The federal government is supporting a $3.4 million investment bringing Queensland’s largest producer of Asian mushrooms to establish a new farm and factory at Bundaberg, with a $1.9 million grant under the Securing Raw Materials Program. Read more
The macadamia is finally getting its moment in the sun. Australian macadamia growers have been experiencing bumper crops in recent years, with annual production quantities reaching more than 50,000 tonnes in 2021, according to the Australian Macadamia Society.1 Read more
The macadamia industry in Bundaberg has been growing rapidly. After starting as a small industry in the early 2000s, Bundaberg overtook the Northern Rivers in 2016 to become the largest producing macadamia region in Australia.
Ben Steinhardt’s business, B Fabricated, has been heavily involved in Bundaberg’s macadamia industry since 2009 when he built the first macadamia harvester for his family’s farm. His harvesting machines soon gained popularity and orders flew in from the neighbouring macadamia farms.
Today, B Fabricated manufactures not just nut harvesters but all types of agricultural processing equipment, including conveyors, bucket elevators and batch weighing machines and also offers ad-hoc fabrication and repair services to the local farming industry.
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Australian-owned Bundaberg Brewed Drinks has been rated by Aussie consumers as ‘Australia’s best soft drink’ in Canstar Blue’s first national review of an industry typically dominated by multinational giants. Aussies placed Kirks second, Schweppes fifth, Pepsi sixth and Coco Cola seventh.
The family-owned business was the only brand to receive a five-star rating in the following categories: overall satisfaction, taste, and packaging design and they could not be more grateful for the support of Aussies during these times.
“For the past 50 years we’ve been the underdog in a competitive industry and are proud to be formally recognised by fellow Australian’s as their ‘favourite soft drink’,” said Bundaberg Brewed Drinks CEO, John McLean. “COVID-19 has been a challenging period for everyone, and we’re appreciative of the support Australians have shown us. We hope this trend of Aussies supporting Aussies continues because it is critical we all rally behind each other right now.”
The business sees their rating as yet another sign Australians are turning towards homegrown products they know and trust for quality, comfort and familiarity during these testing times.
“All our recent research over the last six months shows Aussies have been looking for affordable indulgences. For a lot of people in the country that’s been great-tasting comfort food, and our brews meet that need. Our commitment to brewing a premium Australian-made product has resonated with people across the country. It’s important we celebrate what it means to be Australian and to us, that’s being reliable, honest and up for a good time.”
Bundaberg Brewed Drinks is an Australian family-owned company known for its ginger beer and other non-alcoholic beverages. For four generations, they’ve kept tradition at heart, brewing to traditional recipes, using time-honoured brewing methods, and the best quality ingredients. Bundaberg craft brews their drinks for up to seven days to capture the refreshing taste of real ingredients inside every brew.
Launched in 2010, Canstar Blue is an initiative of Canstar – Australia & New Zealand’s premier research and expert ratings agency, working with more than 30,000 products and more than 300 brands in the financial services industry. Canstar is focused on educating and helping consumers make better financial decisions. See here for a list of our authors.
Starting out as a family-owned operation in the 1960s, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks has turned into one of Australia’s most iconic brands of the past 50 years. And unlike a lot of brands that garner the term “iconic”, not only has the company not forgotten its roots, they are entrenched in its DNA just as much as it is in the town that shares its name.
Unlike its contemporary Bundaberg Rum that moved most of its bottling operations to the Sydney suburb of Huntingwood in 2014, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks has no plans on going anywhere. Up until COVID-19 hit, CEO John McLean and the rest of the executive team had done a lot of forward planning for the future of the company, including a new brewery being built in the eponymous Queensland town situated 350 kilometres north of Brisbane.
McLean will tell you one of the keys to the company’s success has not just been in his father-in-law’s Cliff Fleming’s spotting a great sales opportunity, but the people who ply their trade for the company, not just in Bundaberg, but around Australia and the world. There are generations of families who have worked for Bundaberg Brewed Drinks since the Fleming family bought it in 1968 when it was known as Electra Breweries. Back then, there were five soft drink factories in the area, which was no different to most Australian towns because there was no supply chain, and this meant distribution was localised. Bundaberg Brewed Drinks is now the last company standing in the town in terms of having a national presence.
“We’re a proud family business and what makes us happy is that it’s not just our family involved in the business,” he said. “It is great when we see our employees’ families in the business. We have many mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, uncles and aunties – there is a whole series of close relationships.”
Since March and the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has faced many challenges, but McLean, who was a school teacher before joining the business 25 years ago, takes it in his stride.
“Back in February, everything was hunky dory. We knew there were a few challenges coming out of China due to COVID, but we carried on,” he said. “We talked about our annual operation plans, and a week later it all came crashing down. In April, we knew it was going to take a lot longer so our operational plans became about optimising for 2021. Everything we are doing now is how can we get a foundation re-established, recommitted and really build the business so that it’s booming in the future.”
The company gets the majority of its ingredients from local sources, with the main exception being sarsaparilla, which has to be imported for the company’s root beer offerings. Most of the instrumentation, plant and sensors for its bottling operation comes from Germany, France and Italy, while the heavy machinery for its brewery is fabricated in Australia by ME Engineering.
While having local fabricators is good, it is the supply chain where most companies in the processing and manufacturing of products have found problems during the pandemic. And while, initially, the company did have issues, forward planning has been essential.
“At the beginning of COVID it was a bit more challenging because the ports were making boats wait for 14 days before docking,” said McLean. “That really did hamstring our international business and especially our Kiwi business. We’ve all gotten over that and we have worked out the situation so the supply chain is now very robust.
“However, we’ve worked very closely with our logistics team, and our planning and procurement team work very closely with our providers, both inbound and outbound. It probably comes as no shock that communication is key. We are constantly looking at our projections moving out and looking at short-, medium- and long-term forecasts and working with our suppliers so we don’t see ourselves embarrassed. We have had one situation where we had to fly in closures (grip caps) from Thailand. But that was it.”
McLean is a believer in the Stockdale Paradox, which at its heart is “hope for the best, prepare for the worst”. It is something that a lot of companies facing COVID-19 have put at the top of their list in terms of preparing for an uncertain future. While Bundaberg Brewed Drinks will see itself through the pandemic, McLean thinks that the event could possibly change how some businesses work forever.
“COVID has advanced a lot of technology,” he said. “We used to use Zoom occasionally but now we run entire weeks on the platform. The pandemic has advanced the business from a technological perspective. It has brought customers and suppliers a lot closer because we’ve all got a common environment to start a discussion from.
“It’s been really good in terms of connecting with people. Our business very much believes in relationships.
“I haven’t been on a plane since February, but I’m speaking to my customers and other partners more than I ever have by Zoom or telephone, catching up on the way to work, or on the way home from work. I’m also talking to my employees more than I ever have.”
McLean said it is important to be flexible and adaptive and adoptive. Bundaberg has done everything the government has asked of it. Most of its teams are now back in the offices, with the exception of those in Brisbane who are working from home for a few weeks to see if a COVID-19 hotspot comes under control. McLean said the company still runs its town hall meetings via Zoom.
“What is really good about that is usually they get to meet all the people from around the country once a year. Now once a month we get to see everybody on Zoom,” he said.
Even though the pandemic is the hot topic of the moment, McLean and his team still have their eyes on expanding the business into new territories, while consolidating the market share it has domestically and internationally.
“We’re the number one ginger beer in New Zealand; we’re number one in California, and hovering between number one and two in the US,” he said. “We export about 50 per cent of our product every year. We send a lot of product overseas but we are not trying to go into every single country. We are trying to grow the countries we are in. We have a great presence in the US, and we have a growing presence in both China and South Korea. It’s the same in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Romania.”
Along with sourcing most of its ingredients from Australia, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks acquires almost all of its packaging requirements from local sources. The only item it needs to import are the closures, which come from Thailand. Even then, it is out of necessity as the last closure manufacturer in Australia closed its doors just over a decade ago.
What about the future of the company? If it grows its market share in some of its current locations – especially China – might it be a case of having to build a brewery there? And if so, will it still be able to be a family-run enterprise? McLean doubts the former will ever happen, while the latter is already being planned.
“China is a rapidly growing market,” he said. “However, there is a certain thing about brand Australia – it’s a trust thing; there is a familiarity about it. Internationally it’s a brand that is strong. While we do bottle with partners in Germany and the United Kingdom, we’ll never change where we brew, every drop consumed around the world is crafted at our Bundaberg Brewery.”
And keeping it in the family?
“I have two daughters, one is at university and the other is going to join the company soon,” he said. “Who knows what happens in the future. Bundaberg is a great town. It has been really good to our company and we support Bundaberg where we can. COVID has slowed us down a bit but it hasn’t knocked us out. We have to make sure we build the facility and stay family owned. We don’t want to compromise that. We have a stewardship process in place where we can pass it on to the next generation.”
New Zealand chocolate manufacturer, Whittaker’s, has come together with Australia’s iconic Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, to create the new Whittaker’s Brewed Ginger Caramel 250g Block. As well as a new chocolate flavour, the partnership reflects the special nature of the trans-Tasman relationship, the synergy between these two family-owned brands, and the resilience of both in working together virtually to create an exciting new product at such a challenging time.
Whittaker’s Brewed Ginger Caramel combines ginger caramel, encased in Whittaker’s five-roll refined creamy milk chocolate. The ginger caramel filling is made from Bundaberg’s ginger brew that is used to make its ginger beer, without the fizz. The amount of Bundaberg ginger brew provided to Whittaker’s for the chocolate is enough to make 335,600 bottles of ginger beer.
Whittaker’s co-chief operating officer, Holly Whittaker, said the two brands’ equally strong focus on quality was important to both in deciding to collaborate on product development.
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“Whittaker’s is proud to use only the finest ingredients and make all of our chocolate at our one factory in Porirua, which enables us to control quality from roasting the cocoa beans ourselves to the finished products. Bundaberg Brewed Drinks’ similar approach in using locally grown ginger and even growing and harvesting some of its own ginger, sourcing only the best ingredients and making its products locally fits perfectly with our ethos,” said Whittaker.
Bundaberg’s CEO, John McLean, who is the son-in-law of the business’ founder, Cliff Fleming, said the partnership with Whittaker’s is another milestone in the company’s history. It will be their first collaboration with another brand on a product to be distributed in supermarkets across Australia and New Zealand.
“Both family businesses have a long-standing commitment to excellence and are entrenched in the trans-Tasman way of life. It makes sense for Australia’s best soft-drink and New Zealand’s Most Trusted Brand to join forces, particularly during a time when consumers are looking for affordable ways to treat themselves. We’re very proud to be a part of this collaboration. We hope this will encourage Aussies and Kiwis to get together with loved ones to share some special moments, great food and delicious brews – while socially distancing, of course,” said McLean.
While the initial idea of collaboration between Whittaker’s and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks was first proposed in 2018 and product development and testing got underway last year, the critical final six months of development and launch planning have occurred under unique and challenging circumstances. With no possibility of getting together to sample products and review packaging, samples were sent across the Tasman and final product development and campaign planning meetings were held over Zoom.
Whittaker’s Brewed Ginger Caramel 250g Blocks will be available exclusively in Coles, in all of their stores across Australia, from 31 Augus
Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, Vegemite, Four’n Twenty and Rosella got together for a virtual meeting recently to, resulting in a network of Aussie businesses sharing strategies to get through current uncertainties. Collectively, the four iconic Australian brands have survived floods, fires, and even the Great Depression, but the next battle is COVID-19.
In a period where consumers are being encouraged to purchase Australian-made brands, iconic Aussie business, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, is taking things one step further and encouraging Aussie businesses to support fellow homegrown businesses. The old-fashioned way.
John McLean, CEO of Australian family-owned Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, met with the chief decision-makers behind iconic Aussie brands; VEGEMITE, Four’n Twenty, and Rosella, to start a network of guidance and support throughout the Australian FMCG and broader business community.
“Whether you’re Australian-owned, manufactured or employing Aussies, our national business community needs to be there for each other,” says John McLean. “If the changes brought on by COVID-19 become the new normal, we need to work together to ensure Aussie brands live long into the future.”
With over 320 years of collective experience, all four brands involved in today’s discussions have previously overcome ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ challenges and know the only way forward is with the support of others.
“For us, it’s not just about consumers supporting local brands; it’s about Australian businesses supporting Australian businesses – even if they’re not in the same category. If we can provide insights, suggestions or manufacturing capability that can help others navigate complex times, we will – it’s the Aussie way” said McLean. “You never know what you may need help with or when. Now is the time to know the capabilities of our wider business community and start the conversation about supporting each other.”
The brands are all involved in the business of manufacturing FMCG products, a complex space made even more complicated by the challenges of COVID-19. There are a lot of moving parts in the successful delivery of products to supermarket shelves. This is particularly challenging given the importance of consistency and the current rapid increase in demand from consumers.
“We are seeing a significant shift in Australian consumers entertaining at home with the brands they know and trust. We’ve been around for fifty years, and we want to continue to treat Australians for the next fifty,” said McLean.
Procurement of ingredients, logistics, warehousing are all considerations, and during COVID-19, the barriers keep moving. Aussie manufacturers may very well need to lean on each other as the fall out of COVID-19 becomes our new normal.
With the complications of global manufacturing, the brands hope to see more collaboration between Australian businesses to manufacture locally and potentially share each other’s capabilities. While we won’t be seeing a Ginger Beer and VEGEMITE flavoured meat pie any time soon, the support and Aussie mateship between Australian brands will be a reality.
Bundaberg Brewed Drinks is an Australian family-owned business known for brewing Australia’s favourite Ginger Beer. Now exporting to over 60 countries, Bundaberg recently installed their first in-house canning line to meet demand. Bundaberg Brewed Drinks have been working around the clock to meet the rapid increase in global demand generated by COVID-19 as consumers shift towards affordable indulgences.
“For us, it’s not just about consumers supporting local brands; it’s about Australian businesses supporting Australian businesses – even if they’re not in the same category,” said McLean.
Four’N Twenty is an iconic Australian brand synonymous with ‘The Great Australian Taste’ since 1947. Owned by parent company Patties Foods, today, Four’N Twenty is a much-loved part of Australian culture. Not only is it the official pie of the AFL, the iconic pie is capturing fans overseas, championed in the US through its partnership with NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and homegrown superstar Ben Simmons. Product innovations continue to evolve the brand to ensure there is a Four’N Twenty pie for all Australians.
“Patties is a proud member of the Australian business community, and part of that is giving back – it’s the Aussie battler spirit! We’re committed to supporting fellow businesses and doing our part to help the industry stay alive – not just for the economy, but for the livelihoods and lives of millions. We’ll all get through this together,” said Paul Hitchcock, CEO Patties Foods
Since it hit Australian shelves in 1923, VEGEMITE has become one of the country’s most iconic ‘Australian’ brands. VEGEMITE is in most Australian homes and is loved by children, teenagers and adults alike. VEGEMITE will celebrate its 97th birthday in October, as the brand continues to play an important role in the lives of Australians. VEGEMITE is proudly owned by Bega Cheese Limited, whose impressive portfolio includes a range of Aussie products.
“We’re proud to be a part of a very important discussion today – one that is centred around extending mateship and support to one another, as we continue to produce great quality products for Australian consumers,” said Adam McNamara, Executive General Manager Bega Foods.
Rosella was founded in the late 1800s and since this time, its mission has been to provide Australians quality, purity and taste through its products with an uncompromising attitude to only using the best of ingredients. Rosella was purchased in 2013 by the Australian family owned company Sabrands who immediately set about restoring the original vision for the brand.
“Rosella has been providing great tasting Australian made food products for Australian families since 1895 when the founders HR McCracken & TJ Press established the brand 125 years ago. Still 100% Australian owned today and proudly supporting Aussie farmers Rosella has just launched an Organic Sauce range – made from 100 per cent Australian Grown Organic Tomatoes,” said Michael Bartholomew, CEO Rosella
Queensland brand Bundaberg Rum, owned by parent company Diageo, has announced the creation of ‘Raising the Bar’, an $11.5 million fund that will support Australia’s bars, pubs, and clubs as they rebuild following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Any licensed venue in Australia, whether they’re regional or metro, and regardless if they’re a Bundaberg Rum or Diageo stockist, can apply for support through the ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative that will fund a two-year programme rolling out from July 2020.
‘Raising the Bar’ will directly support jobs, recovery, and innovation in the Australian hospitality industry. Pre-COVID-19 Australian pubs, bars and clubs employed more than 500,000 Australians and contributed $17.2 billion in revenue.
“Our hospitality industry sits at the heart of our community and Australian culture. The joy of being able to connect with friends and family down at the ‘local’ has been sorely missed throughout this pandemic, while the economic impact on the industry has been unprecedented,” said Angus McPherson, managing director at Bundaberg Rum’s parent company Diageo Australia.
“Many in the hospitality industry are small businesses that employ thousands across the country and as we start to recover and rebuild, Bundaberg Rum wants to stand by their side and support them in getting back on their feet just like any Australian would do for a mate.”
Both Government and industry have come out in support of the fund and how it will help this critical industry that accounts for 8 per cent of Australian jobs, get back on its feet.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and our communities. Seeing the resilience, innovation and spirit amongst Australian small business operators, including in the hospitality sector, as they have faced the challenges this year has been nothing short of inspiring,” said Hon. Michaelia Cash Senator and Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business.
“Businesses and workers in the hospitality industry have shown great ingenuity by innovating and adapting as the devastating effects of COVID-19 have impacted us all.
“I welcome the introduction of the ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative. These support measures will provide additional support to Australia’s bars, pubs and clubs which have all been severely impacted by the social distancing measures required to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
‘Bundaberg Rum, through their parent company Diageo, stepped up for Queensland when we needed it most, generously donating 100,000 litres of ethanol to produce hand sanitiser to ensure our front-line workers were kept safe at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Queensland,” said Queensland treasurer, the Hon. Cameron Dick.
‘Once again, Bundaberg Rum has proven their commitment with the ‘Raising the Bar’ recovery fund for Australia’s hospitality sector, which has been so hard hit by the pandemic.
‘Like the Queensland Government, Bundaberg Rum knows how important it is to support and create jobs, and we thank them, once again, for investing in Queensland.’
‘Doing business in a post-COVID world is a new challenge for every industry and it is initiatives like this that will allow more businesses to keep their doors open during these challenging times,” said NSW treasurer, the Hon. Dominic Perrottet.
‘These support measures will allow more pubs and bars to open safely, directly supporting tens of thousands of jobs across the country as we move from the response to recovery phase during this pandemic.
‘The hospitality is a key contributor to the NSW and national economy and it is important businesses continue to adopt innovative approaches such as these, which I have no doubt will provide not only short-term gains but long-term benefits.
‘The NSW Government is doing everything we can to support all sectors of the economy to keep more people in jobs and businesses in business.’
From 24 June 2020, venue operators can register their interest for ‘Raising the Bar’ funding via http://www.diageobaracademy.com. The industry can also register to receive regular updates on best practice training and resources and be able to participate in global surveys to share insights, as they build back their businesses.
This announcement is part of a broader commitment by Diageo to invest US$100 million globally in ‘Raising the Bar’ programmes that will support venues as they recover from the impact of COVID-19.
The impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality sector has been widespread, with the closure of venues the world over. As governments begin to ease lockdown measures, the public want to come together again to connect with their community and socialise safely. Through the establishment of ‘Raising the Bar’, Bundaberg Rum and Diageo aims to help any licensed venue anywhere in Australia open its doors again and welcome back their patron
Diageo, the maker of Bundaberg Rum, Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff, has pledged to enable the creation of more than eight million bottles of hand sanitiser, by donating one and a half million litres of alcohol to manufacturing partners, to help protect front-line healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19.
The world’s leading distiller will provide Grain Neutral Spirit (GNS) – a 96 per cent strength ethyl alcohol used primarily in production of vodka and gin – and make it available at no cost to hand sanitiser producers, to help overcome shortages in healthcare systems. This donation will enable the production of more than eight million 250ml bottles of hand sanitiser.
Diageo continues to engage with national and local governments across the many countries where the company has major distilling operations. The spirit will be made available in supply chains according to local circumstances, working with the relevant authorities and hand sanitiser manufacturers. This will ensure the donation is used for maximum impact in protecting health workers and patients and that sanitiser reaches the front-line as quickly as possible.
The plan includes:
· Australia: Diageo’s Bundaberg Distilling Co. to produce 100,000 litres of ethanol for the Queensland Government, to be forwarded to hand sanitiser manufacturers
· Brazil: Diageo’s Ypioca plant will produce 50,000 litres of spirit for the local health care system, in conjunction with the Ceara State Government
· India: 500,000 litres of alcohol to supply to the sanitiser industry across 25 States, for use in national healthcare systems and for consumers
· Kenya: Diageo’s East Africa Breweries Ltd will provide 100,000 litres of alcohol to supply to a local sanitiser manufacturer
· The UK and the Republic of Ireland: 500,000 litres of GNS to be made available for national healthcare systems and workers across the UK and Ireland
· The US: 250,000 litres of GNS to be supplied to meet local community needs
“Health care workers are at the forefront of fighting this pandemic and we are determined to do what we can to help protect them,” said Ivan Menezes, Diageo chief executive. “This is the quickest and most effective way for us to meet the surging demand for sanitiser around the world.”
Of the Bundaberg Distilling Co. ethanol donation for the Queensland Government, David Smith, Diageo Australia managing director said the company had a duty to support the community in this unprecedented time of need through its donation of ethanol.
This November, Bundaberg Rum celebrates 130 years by releasing a special Small Batch Spiced rum.
Bundaberg Rum Small Batch Spiced has been crafted by blending the finest aged reserves with rum mellowed to perfection in heavily charred American oak barrels, before being infused with notes of 13 different spices, fruit nectars and citrus zest to produce a perfectly balanced and intricately complex spiced rum.
Bundaberg Rum marketing manager Karl Roche said small Batch Spiced is one of our best rums yet.
“It celebrates 13 decades of craftsmanship by combining 13 specially selected spices with locally made, world class premium rum. Bundaberg Rum is an Australian born craft distiller, and we’re so excited to release new Small Batch Spiced as a thank you to our fans in Australia for their support over the years,” said Roche.
Bundaberg Rum is one of the few single estate distilleries in the world using all locally sourced ingredients from Bundaberg, Australia.
The rum has won 144 awards in its 130 years of rum creation.
Bundaberg Rum Small Batch Spiced – 700ml, 40 per cent ABV, RRP $69.95 – is available to purchase at the Bundaberg Distillery Store, online and nationwide including selected duty-free outlets.