Coopers installs new equipment which “will become more common” amongst brewers

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 22nd January 2009

Australian-owned Coopers Brewery is not letting the economic downturn restrict a $6m plan to install new production equipment at its Regency Park brewery, which could see them contract brew international beers.

Coopers’ Managing Director, Dr Tim Cooper, said that in the next 12 months, the brewery would be installing a new multi-pack packaging machine, rebuilding the pasteuriser, adding a new filter to the brewery’s lager line and purchasing more kegs. This follows the expenditure in late 2008 on a new palletiser, including two new industrial robots, and on a new can filler, as well as investing in the introduction of a new bottle.

Dr Cooper said the new equipment and kegs in 2009 would cost around $6 million and will provide the brewery with additional capability in producing different styles of beer and packaging options. “The new multi-pack packer will allow us to produce new carton sizes, ranging from 12 to 24 bottles, for special promotions or in order to produce packs that meet certain price points,” he said. “This is something which has been embraced by soft drink producers and is something we believe will become more common in the future.”

Dr Cooper added that the rebuild of the pasteuriser would incorporate the latest engineering technology to help with extending the shelf-life of lager beer, as well as produce additional water savings. “Prior to packaging, lager beer is filtered and the current beer filter at Coopers was purchased in 1969 when we first started lager production,” he said. “While this traditional ‘plate and frame’ filter is very durable, it is now time for a change, and it will be replaced by a new automated ‘candle’ filter which is constructed totally in stainless steel.”

“The new pasteuriser and filter, along with the new can filler we introduced last year, will substantially upgrade our lager production capabilities and means we will be well positioned to contract brew for any international brewer with whom we may partner in the future.”

Dr Cooper said Coopers had introduced new bottles for its ales and lagers in the lead-up to Christmas. The new bottles are “taller, and more stylish and elegant” than the bottle Coopers has been using since 2003. “While we have seen other brewers employ 330ml, 345ml and 355ml bottles, we thought it best to maintain our existing products in 375ml bottles,” he said. “Production of international beers locally would require additional capital expenditure on the bottling line to cope with different bottle volumes.”

Dr Cooper reported that additional kegs will be ordered to help cope with keg sales volume, which has continued to grow at 4.3% overall for the first six months of this financial year and a startling 19.8% outside Coopers’ traditional stronghold of South Australia. The brewer is consequently not showing the signs of pain that a number of international brewers have over recent weeks, with Carlsberg shedding staff and SAB Miller missing forecasts.