Beverage Startups

Bundaberg – More Than 50 Years Of Brewing Experience

Bundaberg - More Than 50 Years Of Brewing ExperienceMore than 2 years ago our team had a chance to review Ginger Beer and Root Beer by Bundaberg. A global brand with a huge variety of different flavors has a reputation of successful beverage brand. Bundaberg is a family owned phenomena with over 50 years of experience. Today, I have the pleasure of talking to Derika Legg, General Manager USA at Bundaberg Brewed Drinks.

1. More than 50 years of experience is a huge deal. How did the whole story of Bundaberg start?

Australian family-owned Bundaberg Brewed Drinks has been craft brewing premium non-alcoholic beverages since the 1960s in the Queensland town that shares its name, Bundaberg. For three generations, they’ve kept tradition at heart, brewing to traditional recipes, using time-honored brewing methods and the best quality ingredients.

For as long as they’ve been in business, they’ve lived by one simple rule, it it’s worth brewing; it’s worth brewing well, and to this day they retain the strong company values that have been the foundation of their success.

The company has its origins as a small operation started by Cliff & Lee Fleming, along with Cliff’s parents, Neville and Gladys. Back then, times were extremely tough to build a beverage business, but with perseverance and determination, distribution of their Ginger Beer started to gain serious traction. In the 1980s they secured distribution in both major Australian supermarkets and began exporting the product internationally.

Bundaberg - More Than 50 Years Of Brewing ExperienceCliff’s son-in-law, John McLean joined the business in 1995 before taking over as Bundaberg Brewed Drinks CEO in 2007. John’s mission was to grow the business internationally whilst maintaining the company’s strongly entrenched family values. He still gets excited when he’s overseas at a restaurant, and there on the menu is Bundaberg Ginger Beer, “it is a surreal feeling knowing the background and the effort it has taken to get it there”. Now, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks are a global business with Bundaberg Brews now available in over 44 countries around the world.

2. Bundaberg is a brewed drinks brand, born in Australia. Could you tell us more about the brand and impact to the global market?

Now in our 50th year, Bundaberg has a stronghold in markets like Australia and New Zealand. But the real opportunities rest in the global markets where consumers are seeking authentic products with genuine taste.

In 2017, negotiations were in full swing for two ground-breaking distribution deals for Bundaberg Brewed Drinks – one with PepsiCo USA, taking Bundaberg to over 400,000 stores, restaurants, and bars across the U.S.; and another with AG Barr in the UK. For a small, family-owned, 50-year-old company that still craft brews its beverages in the Australian town that it shares its name, 2017 was an exciting year that culminated in lots of Bundaberg Ginger Beer being distributed around the globe!

Part of the interest in Bundaberg’s products is our authenticity – from the real ingredients we use in our brews, to the brewing process itself (we take over 3 days to brew our Ginger Beer), right through to the excitement of opening our glass bottles with our unique rip-cap top. It’s a premium experience from start to finish and consumers are appreciating that.

Premiumization is a global concept that has influenced change in other categories including spirits, beer, and fast food. Similar changes are now occurring in sodas, with adult consumers seeking more premium products – ones which are a bit more special than an everyday soda, a drink to be savored. Because of this, consumers are looking for brands that are authentic, real and genuine.

Craft and premium soft drinks continue to grow ahead of mainstream carbonated soft drinks. There are many emerging opportunities to increase sales and Bundaberg is a leader in developing craft-brewed drinks that driving growth in the category.

Millennials, the largest and most influential generation of consumers (according to Euromonitor), are turning away from mainstream brands in preference for smaller brands that better cater to their needs. They are seeking out products that provide them with a unique experience; a brand that aligns more with their beliefs, opinions, and values; and a desire to ‘maximize special moments’. As they move away from mainstream CSD products, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks stands out with our authentic backstory, craft-brewing process, real ingredients and unique flavors along with our quirky “Flip, Rip & Sip” opening ritual.  Derika Legg, General Manager USA explains, “It’s not a gimmick – it’s designed to help infuse the real ingredients throughout the brew to unlock the full taste. It’s flavor you can see!”

Bundaberg - More Than 50 Years Of Brewing ExperienceMillennials have also driven the growth of craft cocktails – from spirit, to mixer, to garnish.  One drink in particular has exploded due to this generation: the Moscow Mule.  They have filled their Instagram feeds with photos of the cocktail’s copper mug, and appreciate the deep, authentic flavor Bundaberg offers to this drink.

Additionally, mules have now moved beyond the classic ‘Moscow’ version to use other liquors. But Ginger Beer remains as the key ingredient and a craft brewed, premium Ginger Beer like Bundaberg quenches Millennials thirst for authentic and sophisticated flavors: the Irish Mule, is made using a peaty whiskey, the Mexican Mule is made best with a reposado tequila, the Kentucky Mule made with rich, deep bourbon, and an English Mule made on a fine gin.

Just as we’ve seen with other niche market developments, the brands that truly provide an authentic, craft, holistic experience will connect, engage and become a consumer’s choice. Bundaberg Brewed Drinks range does this and has proven success now in many markets.

3. Bundaberg has 13 different brews. That’s a huge product variety. Can you tell us more about this line? Are you planning of releasing 14th flavor? Which one is your favorite?

There’s now 13 flavors in the Bundaberg range in Australia and New Zealand, with seven available in the U.S.  All of our beverages are brewed using the real ingredient (so our Ginger Beer has real ginger, Guava has real guava, our Peach has real peach and so on) – so the taste is outstanding. There is also a special flavor we bring out at holiday time called Spiced Ginger Beer with cinnamon and cloves and it’s frankly, quite spectacular. This special holiday product will be available in the U.S. this November in selected markets so you’ll need to keep an eye out for this.

You can’t pick a favorite flavor though – it’s like picking your favorite child! They’re all sensational on their own and perfect as a mixer so depending on your mood, there’s a flavor for every occasion.

4. Bundaberg is available in Europe, Australia and North America. Is it hard to be a global brand? What are the biggest difficulties regarding the management of such brand?

Bundaberg - More Than 50 Years Of Brewing ExperienceBundaberg is available in now over 44 countries so keeping our messaging consistent can be a challenge, particularly when there’s cultural differences. We have terrific and respectful relationships with our partners in each country and work closely with them to ensure the experience you have with Bundaberg is the same no matter where you enjoy our drinks.

Every product is brewed in our brewery in Australia, so you know that the flavor and quality will be consistent. As a family owned business Bundaberg Brewed Drinks have the ability to be agile and adapt to growth and new opportunities. The Fleming family believe that being a family-owned Australian company has had huge impact on how they do business. Team members are undoubtedly a key ingredient in the business’ success, all 200 employees are seen as extended family.

The family is dedicated to ensuring Bundaberg Brewed Drinks continues to adapt, change and grow to meet the needs set by an ever-changing market in one of the most competitive industries in the world; whilst ensuring they stay true to their roots.

5. Personally, I really love the initiative of Upcycling. In your opinion, why consumers are going thought all of this work?

There’s definitely a trend towards the different and interesting which is permeating not only flavor and brand choice, but lifestyle, decoration and entertaining. If you look at most Instagram feeds these days, it’s all about being original and finding a way to connect. We have lots of our customers taking our bottles and upcycling them for table decorations (like putting fairy lights inside or adding a personalized name tag for place settings), through to turning them into vases or cool herb garden creations. There’s some really interesting things people have done shared on our website.

6. What does the future hold for Bundaberg?

Bundaberg Brewed Drinks have seen tremendous growth in recent years, much of it spurred by international success with expansion to now over 44 countries in the last two decades. John McLean, President and CEO of Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, has a mission to grow the business internationally whilst maintaining the strong entrenched family values. Most importantly, staying true to who we are and what we do best – brewing. The company has set in motion plans to become a major international player with recent strategic alignments made across Asia, the United Kingdom and the United States.  Already the #5 Ginger Beer in the U.S. and #1 in California, we have set our sights on accelerated U.S. sales, but have our eye on other countries as well.

7. What is your advice to other beverage startups?

Be true to your brand and its values.

For more information, visit our website, or join in our conversation on Facebook  and Instagram.

About Ugne Butkute

Ugnė Butkutė is a project manager at DrinkPreneur. Ugnė is responsible for attracting contributors, maintaining quality of content and keeping readers satisfied with DrinkPreneur

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