Lion Breweries kicks off consultation with employees today at Canterbury Breweries, where up to 24 jobs are on the line.
New Zealand’s largest brewer is building a $250 million beer manufacturing, contract bottling and warehousing plant at East Tamaki, Auckland, which will have an impact on what other production it needs around the country.
Canterbury Draught, Guinness, Steinlager Pure and some of the Mac’s range are brewed in Canterbury.
Speight’s in Dunedin was a regional exception, however, with a national and international reputation, and was produced in Dunedin and Auckland.
In Auckland, consultation had begun in April and up to 45 jobs out of 148 were likely to go at the Kyber Pass brewery as production was shifted over the next year to East Tamaki.
In a recent beer column for Salient magazine, I profiled the Founder’s range of beers:
Finding a beer which is environmentally friendly, certified organic, vegan, GE-free and kosher is not quite as hard as it may sound. The entire Founder’s range of beer from Nelson fit the bill perfectly.
There is also a survey of New Zealand’s growing Lager Frenzy:
While we may claim to have had “a few quiet ales” the night before, the chances are that most, if not all, of those “ales” were really lagers. Even Speight’s Gold Medal Ale and Tui East India Pale Ale are lagers.
Finally, a visit to the Wellington Show revealed several New Beers:
The Food Show was the first time I’d ever even heard of the Storm Brewery in Bali. While most Asian breweries focus exclusively on light lagers, Storm makes a wide range of ales, many of them are bottle conditioned. The Storm Pale Ale (4.2%) was surprisingly fresh, fruity and refreshing.
The new Auckland facility was expected to be up and running in about four years, Lion said.
It said premium beer sales grew strongly, driven by international brands, particularly Corona, and the launch of the Steinlager Pure brand.
New Zealand beer volumes rose 0.5 per cent and exports grew 14 per cent.
Volumes of the Speights brand grew 0.5 per cent but Lion Red declined 8 per cent.
Unfortunately, the key prop for this article is no longer available. I’m referring to the Steinlager Pure beer advert, featuring Harvey Keitel eulogising New Zealand for those things it’s rejected – e.g nuclear weapons, genetic engineering (the jury’s still out on that one) – and, by implication , endorsing NZ beer Steinlager Pure for being additive-free. I thought it would make a nice post, but, unfortunately, YouTube has made the video clip unavailable. Even the Steinlager Pure website doesn’t feature it. That weakens the branding and promotion strategy, I’d say.
Saturday came with a lot of catch-ups with ex Lion Nathan friends such as Dennis Pickup, Peter Keane, Steve Smith, Fraser Holland and other Steinlager advocates. Steinlager, New Zealand’s finest beer, has been revamped brilliantly with a new flanker called Steinlager Pure. It comes in very modern packaging, with no additives or preservatives, and beautifully captures New Zealand’s pure green global positioning. For those of us brought up on Steinlager, it has suffered over the years from its reputation for delivering the most potent of hangovers. When I worked for the company, our brewers always told me this was not justified and had more to do with the quantity consumed! Steinlager Pure, however, really attacks this issue head-on and in a positive way. It is a terrific piece of positioning. Unfortunately, Sod’s Law kicked in and I wasn’t wasn’t able to taste it as the product didn’t arrive in time for the Wellington test. They did have some in the Air New Zealand Koru Club Lounge on the way home, but 8:30am on a Sunday morning was too much for even for me.
Speight’s elevation has seen Lion Red, a brand the brewer has struggled to market effectively in recent years, repositioned as an upper-North Island beer, pegging it back to what has traditionally been its strongest market.
Pure is being pitched as a smoother drink than the traditional Steinlager, made entirely of New Zealand ingredients and free of additives and preservatives.
‘You’re even saying no to additives in your beer now’.”
MASH…”We got it from whoa to go in 11 or 12 weeks, which is pretty impressive for a big corporate like us.”
Former senior Lion executive Doug McKay is now Independent’s executive chairman and Kean’s predecessor as head of Lion Breweries, Julian Davidson, is working with McKay in a senior financial role.
One of Kean’s main challenges is dealing with a price war Lion is locked into with rival DB, a battle that led to beer prices hitting a 20-year low last Christmas as the companies jostled for market share.
Steinlager Classic, which remains New Zealand’s biggest selling premium lager selling over 22 million litres locally and 8 million litres offshore annually.
Based on local beer sales of 320 million per annum that gives Steinlager a 6.9% market share.