A Family of High Quality Juice
Founded in 1876 and incorporated in 1889, Bevco is one of the only 100 per cent Australian owned major manufacturers of fruit juice beverages in the Australian market. It is also one of Australia’s oldest registered companies operating today, and boasts a rich history of quality and hard-work. Beginning as a butter producer they moved into milk production in the middle of last century and later into fruit juice beverages with the introduction of their Macquarie Valley range of fruit juices. In 2004 Bevco acquired the Orchy as part of their business strategy to expand and deliver high quality, well respected fruit juice beverages to the Australian public.
Scott Etherington, a Director at Bevco, points out that Bevco is also a family owned business, one that he is proud to be part of. “I worked in the computer industry before joining Bevco ten years ago,” he says. “I moved into a GM role three years ago in order to continue building a professional management team here at Bevco.” He says that he was so successful in this that he “made myself redundant in my operational role and remain a Director.”
Over the last few years Bevco has gone through a transition in its management team. With the expansion of its operation they found that the informal, family management style that had worked so well in the early years needed more structure to better support the larger business. “My family recognises the importance of having Professional Management incorporated into the everyday running of the company, and now we have a very strong team with many years’ of experience in the Manufacturing and Beverage industries – both in Australia and abroad.”
The family made this change so that they could react to the changes in the industry and compete in the space they have carved out. “Certainly there has been significant consolidation in the industry as well as significant diversification of the brands that single companies offer. This means that while the number of manufacturers may have decreased, the number of brands and products on the market has increased.”
Changes in the marketplace reflected on the shelf
Etherington says this “fragmentation has led to a number of different beverage categories. What used to be referred to as just ‘fruit juice’ has now become ‘fresh juice’, ‘fortified juice’, ‘kids juice’, and a range of other, new categories.” Bevco has aligned its market offerings to compete in all of these spaces.
At the same time, access to raw material has also become more difficult and expensive. “The United States used to be nearly self-reliant when it came to orange juice” says Etherington. Recent challenges with disease and weather have really impacted the U.S. orange crop and now they are sourcing more fruit from the international market. This has driven up the world price for those commodities and reduced the amount available to Australian producers. Add to this the recent challenges to Australian producers and access to fruit derived products, imported and domestic, has become very difficult.”
Some of the other challenges have become apparent, including the increased competition for shelf-space created by the huge growth in product categories and brands. Very recently, Bevco, like many businesses, has had to overcome the problem of access to its suppliers and customers due to the floods along Australia’s East Coast.
Facing challenges head-on
Of course the Global Financial Crisis is never far from their minds, but, says Etherington, they have their employees to thank for getting them through the troubling time. “Our employee’s dedication and devotion to Bevco are the main reason we came through the recent Global Financial Crisis. We owe them a lot for that.” Along with training programs, monthly BBQs, and working on ways to assists staff directly, he says that an important new initiative they have developed is the BCC. “We set up our Bevco Communication Committee to ensure even better internal communication. The BCC comprises the entire management team and a representative from each area of the business. Through this all parts of the business have direct contact, and not just through memos and company meetings, where they have input into decisions that affect their working day.”
With the changing market, Bevco has continued to create excellent products for their customers. By making sure their products are of the highest quality they have forged strong customer relationships, some of which are over 20 years old. “We constantly review how we can improve on one of our Company Missions: To add value to our customers supply chains,” says Etherington. He says that this means they have initiated changes in their packaging configurations “using materials such as shrink film instead of cardboard because it doesn’t get wet and tear in cold rooms. Smaller pack sizes so our customers can carry a wider range on their trucks, and so that the packs will also fit in milk crates. This is because many of our customers are also milk vendors.”
Initiatives like this have led many to realize the importance that Bevco puts on its partners; it is not in just what they say it is in what they do. “We are not the cheapest product on the market, but we add value in other ways. We are good at what we do, so our many distributors stick with us verses cheaper ‘me-too’ products,” says Etherington.
Going green – saving green
Like most Australian businesses, Bevco recognises that green initiatives make good business sense. In Australia Bevco products reach as far as Thursday Island in the north, Tasmania in the south and Alice Springs in the west, and internationally they go all over the South Pacific and South East Asia, so the cost of freight is always on their mind.
“We are continuously working to reduce the weight of our packaging, which is not only more environmentally friendly, it reduces costs” says Etherington. In their factories Etherington says that they ensure that all cardboard and plastic is recycled rather than sent to landfill.
Bevco has also not been wasting any time even during the worst of the global downturn. “Over the last 6 years Bevco has invested significant capital and increased our production capacity and capability significantly. Our plans now are to start filling that capacity and using those capabilities.”
“We want major brand-owners to think of us when they are looking for a manufacturer. We want them to see us as part of their supply chain” he says. ”Our goal is to become ‘The preferred manufacturer of premium Australian Beverages.’ How do we get there? By becoming an integral – and trouble free – part of our customer’s supply chains.”