Business at KHS was already going well before KHS opened up its office in Australia. Why was the decision to establish a local KHS presence so important?
That’s true – our systems were very popular even before 1988. For example, we had five of the biggest KHS can fillers in the world out on the market at the time. There were also more than ten bottle fillers, numerous packaging machines and six turnkey lines. It thus made sense to extend our local services from our own office in order to retain the existing level of customer satisfaction in face of increasing demand.
How high is the KHS market share of filling and packaging technology in the Australian beverage industry today?
It’s about 70% on the beer and soft drinks market. We’re still very strong when it comes to filling technology, with about 80% of all systems used KHS fillers. If you look at can fillers alone, KHS’ share here rises to 90%. Our customers include industrial giants, such as Coca-Cola Amatil, Schweppes, Lion Nathan and Coopers, and also small and medium-sized enterprises, including the Gage Roads craft brewery. They’ve all been our customers for many years and trust in our expertise. By the way, we’re also very present in the wine, sparkling wine and spirits trade. We’ve supplied the Casella winery with the world’s biggest KHS filling and packaging line in the wine industry with a capacity of up to 42,000 glass bottles per hour, for instance.
What do Australian customers most value about KHS technology?
Chiefly the fact that our plant engineering is both innovative and robust and that it’s extremely flexible, cost efficient and sustainable. The Made in Germany factor and the great expertise of our service and sales team also count in our favor. In order to retain the latter, we’re in constant dialog with KHS headquarters in Dortmund, Germany. Our sales and service personnel are also in Germany for training at least once a year.
Which trends do you see emerging in the Australian beverage sector in the next few years and how could this affect KHS?
Consumers, especially young adults, are more and more eager to try out new beverages and aren’t as fixated on certain brands as they used to be. This presents beverage companies with new challenges and continues to demand great flexibility of them. Over the last few years the consumption of beer in Australia, for example, has steadily dropped and now reached an annual per-capita consumption of about 75 liters. This was around 100 liters in the 1990s. I think we’ve just about hit rock bottom here. The winners are those breweries who are prepared to innovate and introduce new styles of beer alongside their classic brands. This is why craft breweries are experiencing a real boom in Australia at the moment. With soft drinks we’re currently observing a phenomenon which is evident in almost all regions of the world: while the consumption of water is positively spiraling, that of CSDs is on the decline. All told, for the beverage industry this means being receptive to new ideas especially. The beverage trade is indeed realizing this and we’re also noticing this – among other things – in the fast-growing demand for machine and line upgrades which will allow customers to react even more flexibly. We’re also expecting that more and more of our customers will enter into service contracts in the future so that they know that they’re assured high line and machine efficiency at all times throughout the entire life cycle of their plant equipment. All things considered, we’re reckoning on KHS continuing to play a leading role in Australia
Mr. Hofmann, thank you very much for this interview.
The interview was conducted by Friederike Arndt.