Bundaberg Brewed Drinks Founder Cliff Fleming has been awarded the 2023 Hinkler Innovation Award at the annual breakfast event.
The Hinkler Innovation Initiative aims to foster and champion innovation throughout the Bundaberg Region and brings together a wide spectrum of the community interested in advancing regional innovation and growth.
Cliff and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks has been recognised for the 55 year history of manufacturing in the Bundaberg Region, and the company’s continued commitment to growth and innovation, including the recent opening of a new $150m facility.
The company’s traditional brewing techniques set it apart from other beverage manufacturers, and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks was rated by consumers as Australia’s best soft drink in Canstar Blue’s first national review of the soft drink industry.
Bundaberg Brewed Drinks was named 2022 Queensland Exporter of the Year at the Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards Gala, also winning the Agribusiness, Food and Beverages category.
Cliff started out with his parents and wife in 1968 when they purchased Electra Breweries, and he said Bundaberg had been a beautiful city to do business in over his career.
“I had a beautiful partnership with my mother and father, who retired in 1985, and since then I’ve had a beautiful partnership with my siblings and family,” he said.
“I accept this award on behalf of them and those who helped me along the way.
“The help I speak of is not just family and employees, who have been nothing short of magnificent, but of other businesses in the region.
“I don’t think if I’d gone to any other city in Australia that I would have gotten the same amount of help and the free flow of assistance.”
Cliff said the development of the new super brewery was full of innovation, as the development team travelled the world to seek out the best equipment and plant.
“There are things in the factory I couldn’t have dreamed of,” Cliff said.
“The new brewery doesn’t require as much refrigeration during the filling process, with 12-15 degrees saved, at a rate of 850 bottles per minute.”
Bundaberg Brewed Drinks uses the heat generated to heat water for temperature control in other aspects of the packing process.
Cliff said agri-business people in the region had a maturity in their approach to business that supported innovation and growth.
“It’s been a marvellous city to do business in, and still is for people establishing businesses,” he said.
“My attitude is, I’ve been helped and if I can help, I would be only too happy to do so.
“The potential for this district is outstanding.”
Mayor Jack Dempsey congratulated Cliff and the team at Bundaberg Brewed Drinks for winning this year’s award.
“Bundaberg Brewed Drinks is an icon in the region, and their award-winning drinks have helped to carry the Bundaberg name around the globe,” he said.
“It’s wonderful they are being honoured for their innovative ideas and support of growth in the region with this year’s Hinkler Innovation Award.”
Attendees at the annual breakfast event also heard from a panel of speakers, including futurist demographer Simon Keustenmacher and Biomedical Engineer Dr Jordan Nguyen, on the theme ‘Innovation for the Future’.
The Hinkler Innovation Initiative is a collaboration between Bundaberg Regional Council and Regional Business HQ and The Generator.