FB*PROPAK has access to US canning and brewing technology through its new partnership with equipment manufacturer Alpha Brewing Operations.
FB*PROPAK will be supplying Nebraska-based Alpha’s canning systems and brewhouses in Australia and New Zealand under the distribution arrangement.
Alpha has already dipped its toe into the Australian market, having supplied Burleigh Heads-based Black Hops with their second brewery, a project which enabled the brewery to refining its processes and increase automation.
Chris Chrystiuk, sales manager at FB*PROPAK, said that the partnership came about after the company saw the results of Alpha’s work with Black Hops, as well as identifying a gap in the market for US-made kit.
“Having worked with European suppliers on so many of our projects over the years, we know there’s a big push from breweries working with smaller budgets to try and find cheaper ways to get into the Australian craft beer market,” he explained.
“We’d seen and heard some horror stories about customers going direct to Asia for cheaper gear, and we realised there needed to be a comparable American offering to the premium European equipment we supply.”
He said that with more entrants to the brewing market with a range of brewing, packaging and cost demands, it made sense for FB*PROPAK to sign on a supplier to the mature US market.
“We wanted to get competitively-priced brewing equipment that’s really well built and tested properly and had the support of a reputable supplier. So we looked at the US market to see what was around.
“We saw a brilliant setup that Alpha had put together with the guys at Black Hops, it’s an absolute cracker of a brewery setup there.
“We got in touch with Matt and JT at Alpha, who are great guys who love beer as much as we do, and started a partnership with them to set up in Australia and New Zealand.”
He said that the benefit of partnering with a US manufacturer was that they could learn lessons from the American market, which also has similar legislation to Australia in certain respects, as well as an industry which has similar demands.
“The beauty of the relationship between Alpha and FB is that coming from the US they have similar laws and regulations over there, we know what to be asking of a supplier and they’re very welcoming to adjust for any particular Australian requirements.
“There are some fairly strict laws over here, but Alpha are accommodating.
“They’ve got such a big market over there, they’re really forthcoming in asking existing customers and sharing the information they learn with their whole customer base.”
Chrystiuk also said that Alpha understood Australian trends, such as the move to cans over bottles, and had technology to fulfill those demands.
“The number of enquiries for cans compared to those for bottles has turned on its head, and that was also a catalyst for us to go and talk to Alpha.
“It’s a flow-on from the States where many breweries have moved to cans. That’s why there’s such great canning technology available from the States.
“It comes down to capital and output. Purge fill technology has increased significantly in recent times, an the Alpha purge fill system is unique – it’s a great system.”
The partnership is already proving successful.
“The interest the Australian and New Zealand markets have shown in the first few months of our partnership, you can see that interest is high and there’s a focus for them to be selling overseas.
“That interest in their gear in the Australian market seems to be growing exponentially at the moment.”