Bundaberg Rum rallying hope through Raising the Bar initiative

Through their Raising the Bar initiative, Bundaberg Rum has been supplying ‘Bear Care’ packages worth $11.5 million in total to hospitality venues across Australia. In collaboration with global beverage company Diageo, over 1500 hospitality venues from North Queensland to Karratha are being supported by this initiative.

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Positive outlook for industry says Diageo MD

Taking a year’s sabbatical to drive around Australia with his young family to see a bit of the country was the plan for Angus McPherson at the end of 2019. By May 2020, those plans were on the backburner and he was sitting in the managing director’s chair at beverage multi-national, Diageo, and dealing with a pandemic outbreak that changed the way the company had been doing business.
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Pubs, bars and clubs given helping hand

Hundreds of pubs, clubs and bars across Sydney and New South Wales are benefitting from Bundaberg Rum’s Raising the Bar initiative.
More than 150 venues across New South Wales have received ‘Bear Cares Safety packages’ providing essential supplies of hand sanitiser, dispensers, floor demarcations, thermal scanners and PPE.
The COVID-safety kits, worth $1,250, are removing an onerous cost burden from venues at a time when they are trying to rebuild from the economic hit of COVID-19 and get back to business.
Diageo Australia and Bundaberg Rum’s $11.5 million Raising the Bar fund is an investment in the recovery of the hospitality industry, which plays a vital role in both the NSW and Australian economies.
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.
“Bundaberg Rum is proud to be supporting New South Wales hospitality venues to get back on their feet after such a challenging period. This industry is vitally important to this state’s economy, providing tens of thousands of jobs, as well as a sense of community,” Angus McPherson, managing director at Bundaberg Rum’s parent company Diageo Australia said.
“The Raising the Bar initiative won’t just instil confidence in patrons but will also help ease the ongoing financial burden of purchasing costly safety equipment and supplies such as hand sanitiser and PPE,” said McPherson.

Diageo’s positive forecast could be marred by second COVID-19 wave

Following the news that spirits manufacturer Diageo’s US business has outperformed expectations at the start of its fiscal year 2021; Carmen Bryan, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, a data and analytics company, offers her view.

“Diageo is a model example of agile marketing, proven by how the company reinvented its business model to align with new consumer trends when its 2020 H2 sales plummeted. These expansions have given the company a resilient start to the new fiscal year, however, if the experiences of much of Europe are anything to go by, the new forecasts could be in jeopardy as the threat of a second wave looms over the US, said Bryan.”

According to GlobalData’s latest COVID-19 recovery tracker, published September 23, nearly one in four US consumers are feeling anxious or stressed. Combine this with the 63 per cent of millennials who noted that their purchasing choices are always or often influenced by changes in the world such as social or economic movements – 21 percentile points higher than the country’s average (42 per cent) – and it has been noted that US consumer sentiment is sensitive to change, making for a volatile market going forwards, according to Bryan. Foodservice premises must build trust and reassure patrons that they are maintaining safe practices, which in turn will greatly benefit spirits suppliers such as Diageo.

“While the public continues to receive mixed messages from the government and news outlets on best COVID-19 safety practices, it is critical that brands such as Diageo stay connected with consumers and monitor ongoing trends,” said Bryan. “Should pubs and bars close again, spirits manufacturers must realign with online channels, which proved a strong safeguard against falling sales in the past few months. Moreover, GlobalData’s survey found that 35 per cent of US consumers are buying more alcoholic drinks online since the start of the outbreak. Diageo and similar brands should continue to focus their efforts in part on home consumption, offering ‘bar experiences’ such as RTD cocktails through accessible channels such as apps and delivery platforms.”

Finding the science with Diageo

Going from how to keep a baby’s nappy dry to developing new alcoholic beverages for the masses may seem a bit more than just a sea change for some, but not for Kylie Jones.

Jones has what some would call a dream role as the product development manager for liquids and packaging at spirits and beer manufacturer Diageo. Jones, who has been nominated in the Mentor of the Year category for the 2020 Women in Industry Awards, started out working for Kimberly-Clark on its Huggies brand.

After graduating from university with a Bachelor in Applied Science (Hons), Jones was the lead on the product development team for Huggies when, just over a year ago, she decided on a career change. Part of that change was driven by Kimberly Clark closing down its factory, the other part was Jones wanting to test herself in a new arena. But why did she choose beverages, and how hard was it getting the job?

“I asked my boss the same question as to why they offered me the job,” said Jones. “While I admit I didn’t know a lot about drinks and packaging, I did know a lot about innovation and working with big brands. And that is something I am really passionate about.

“I also have leadership skills, experience with the innovation side and a technical mindset – and that is what I am really passionate about. I think you can learn the technical stuff. I have amazing experts on my team who are packaging and liquid technologists who know so much. To me it is not so much about knowing all the intricacies about their technical work, it is about knowing the right questions to ask them to help support them, and to make sure they are free to do their work the best way that they can.”

One of the reasons Jones targeted the food and beverage sector as her next move was because from a manufacturing perspective, Diageo does a lot of innovation with big brands. She wanted to continue to work with well-known brands, and from a manufacturing perspective, the food and beverage industry has the best chance for longevity. What does a typical day look like for Jones? Testing, making up new types of drinks, and more testing.

“My team’s job is to the commercialisation of liquid and packaging innovation,” she said. “There are generally other people involved in the innovation of the liquid, but we do that sometimes. Then the marketing team will say, ‘We want the packaging to look like this’. And my team will make sure the packaging meets those parameters. We will work with suppliers to test new materials and design new bottles, or trial them on the production line. We make sure that we can run the new bottles with different designs and special labels with embellishments on them.

“We do a lot of premium ready-to-serve drinks. One amazing product we launched recently was a Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla Gin which is a blood-orange gin with soda,” she said. “My team helped make sure we had a bottle that looked amazing for a liquid that looks and tastes fantastic.”

One of the biggest challenges Jones found moving from nappies to alcoholic beverages was the speed at which beverages work. The innovation process is a lot quicker and the timelines come around a lot quicker, too. When the decision is made to do a new flavour, the team has a very fast turnaround.

“We are a lot more agile here,” she said. “With Huggies, the development took a lot longer. In some respects it was a bit more technical but I felt it wasn’t at such a fast pace.

Personally, there’s challenges with regard to not being familiar with some of the technical sides of the industry as much as I was at Kimberly Clark. It’s nice when you know the technical side because you feel confident, but I have an amazing team and I trust them so I’ve learnt to work with and support them.”

Although the technical challenges are different, Jones sees herself as a research and development professional, so it is just a matter of taking those skills from one industry to another. However, there was one side effect of her career change she didn’t see coming.

“As a scientist it is particularly challenging because I feel that part of being a scientist is that you have your area, and suddenly I don’t have an area,” she said. “I am part of a programme called Superstars of STEM, which is a government-funded program run by Science and Technology Australia for women. When the program started, the first cohort had to have a PhD. In the second cohort they opened it up to women with industry experience, which is how I got in. It was quite challenging when I first started in the programme because I started at Huggies and then a month later I changed industries and I felt really lost because I didn’t have my science any more. I felt like I was in a programme for women scientists and I didn’t have my familiar science background.”

However, what Jones did learn from that was that there is value having scientists across industries. What she brings besides a strong knowledge of textiles is also leadership and problem solving and they are traits common among all graduates everywhere, she said. That is a really important message for industry that scientists can be valuable for companies, she said.

Overall, Jones is very happy she made the change. She loves most things about the job, especially the daily challenge of developing new products for the market.

“It’s a lot of fun. On my very first day in the job I thought ‘I can’t believe they’re paying me to do this’,” she said. “We get to play around with liquids, look at the colours and other things like that. Diageo does consumer research which is very interesting, plus my team does sensory and shelf life studies, and work with flavour houses to get ingredients. We make sure we can process new innovation on the production lines and that they’ll run without impacting line speeds and quality.

“I love seeing the projects my team and I have worked on going on to shelves or at Dan Murphy’s. It’s amazing.”

Diageo creates 100 per cent plastic-free paper-based Johnnie Walker bottle

Diageo, makers of Johnnie Walker, Bundaberg Rum, Smirnoff and Baileys, has today announced that it has created the world’s first ever 100 per cent plastic-free, paper-based spirits bottle, made from sustainably sourced wood. The bottle will debut with Johnnie Walker in early 2021.

It comes as Diageo announces that it has launched a new partnership with Pilot Lite, a venture management company, to launch Pulpex Limited, a sustainable packaging technology company. To ensure that the technology can be used in every area of life, Pulpex Limited has established a partner consortium of world leading FMCG companies in non-competing categories including Unilever, and PepsiCo, with further partners expected to be announced later in the year. The consortium partners are each expecting to launch their own branded paper bottles, based on Pulpex Limited’s design and technology, in 2021.

Pulpex Limited has developed a ‘first-of-its-kind’ scalable paper-based bottle designed and developed to be 100 per cent plastic free and expected to be fully recyclable. The bottle is made from sustainably sourced pulp to meet food-safe standards and will be recyclable in standard waste streams. The technology will allow brands to rethink their packaging designs, or move existing designs into paper, while not compromising on the existing quality of the product.

Pulpex Limited’s technology allows it to produce a variety of plastic-free, single-mould bottles that can be used across a range of consumer goods.

Australian distiller donates alcohol for hand sanitiser production

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 executiveThis 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.


Johnnie Walker announces the Australian launch of Black Label Sherry Edition

Johnnie Walker, has announced the Australian release of Johnnie Walker Black Label Sherry Edition.

Crafted by Blender Chris Clark, part of the blend in this limited edition bottling is matured in former Sherry casks, giving the whisky a richer fruitiness. The expression also uses malts including Blair Athol, Cardhu and Strathmill resulting in a taste of complex fresh fruit with orchard character, sweet vanilla and gentle smoke.

Johnnie Walker Black Label is created using only whiskies aged for a minimum of 12 years from the four corners of Scotland and has an unmistakably smooth, deep, complex character.

Simon McGoram, National Whisky Ambassador for Diageo says, “What I love about this limited edition whisky is how the blenders have dialled up the rich fruit characters of Johnnie Walker Black Label through sherry cask maturation.

“I’m constantly impressed by the talent of the Johnnie Walker blending team and with every dram of this whisky you can taste the influence of famous malts like Cardhu, Strathmill and Blair Athol. It’s a whisky that has an orchard fruit freshness, red fruits, figs and creamy vanilla all coming through on the palate. There’s just a subtle hint of Walker’s signature smoke on the finish. It’s a remarkable whisky and one that you can enjoy anytime.”

 Jonathan Morgan, Head of International Brands at Diageo says: “Flavour led expressions within Scotch are gaining popularity with Australian consumers and recruiting new drinkers into the category. Johnnie Walker Black Label Sherry Edition is an accessible blend making it a great introduction to Scotch for new consumers, whilst also re-introducing drinkers back to the classic Black Label blend.”

The limited-edition Johnnie Walker Black Label Sherry Edition (ABV 40%) is available now from all good liquor stores nationally, retailing at $60 per 700ml bottle.