De Brabandere Brewery invests in a new canning and packaging line in the midst of the corona crisis
Last year was not an easy year for the Belgian brewing world. And for the time being, there is no immediate improvement. As long as the on-trade market remains closed, breweries cannot operate at full speed. At De Brabandere Brewery in Bavikhove, however, they have not been idle. Their brand-new state-of-the-art canning and packaging line, representing an investment of 4 million euros, recently started operating in full. "Not an easy decision to make such an investment in a time of crisis," says Albert De Brabandere, "but we continue to believe in the future of our West Flemish beers. Also internationally."
Following the trends
The year started promisingly for De Brabandere Brewery. One week before the lockdown in March, five more yeast tanks were installed, good for increasing the capacity to 300,000 HL. "In terms of timing, that could have gone better, of course," explains De Brabandere. "During the months that followed, demand for our beer fell both nationally and internationally." Despite the crisis, they remain optimistic in Bavikhove: "As a Belgian family business, we have to keep up with the trends. Consumers abroad have not been frightened by canned specialty beers for a long time, even in pubs. It is synonymous with quality in an ecological package."
A total of 15,000 cans can roll off the conveyor belt per hour at Bavikhove, after which they automatically end up in handy cardboard boxes. "Crisis or not, we considered this a worthwhile investment. We did have to search for construction companies that were prepared to build an additional warehouse of 1,500 m² in this turbulent period, but nothing proved impossible", says De Brabandere. Will the installation of the new fermentation tanks and the new canning line with accompanying warehouse end the brewery's investments for the coming period? "We keep moving forward, so we still have a few projects in the pipeline", winks De Brabandere.
Cans roll directly into the market
In the meantime, the first cans of the brewery rolled off the conveyor belt directly into the market. A large part went to the US and Russia, among other countries, but they also concluded a nice partnership in their own country. "Retailer Colruyt chose to add our Bavik Super Pils cans to their assortment. This is a huge boost for us. We notice that our pilsner is also appreciated further away from the source. Unfortunately it is not always easy to find on the other side of Flanders. Thanks to the presence in the Colruyt shops, we will be able to satisfy Bavik Super Pils fans from all over Belgium," says sales and marketing manager Stijn Vermoere. "We noticed that the first rays of sunshine already increased the demand for beer in cans. So why shouldn't these cans soon also be seen in summer bars and on terraces?"
Reopening on-trade on May 1st
De Brabandere Brewery will also make sure that their on-trade customers will have fresh and tasty beer when they reopen on May 1st. Among other things, kegs of beer, waters and soft drinks that were discarded during the corona crisis will be replaced by fresh products, free of charge. The family brewery wants to support customers who were forced to close their doors for many months last year. "As a brewery, we take our responsibility to make sure that when we reopen, everyone can start with fresh products. De Brabandere Brewery feels very strongly about quality, so this complex logistic operation is of great importance to us", says Albert De Brabandere.