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The Australia alcoholic drinks market is set to reach USD 32.44 billion by 2025, owing to the rise in the premiumisation trend in the country. The demand for alcoholic cross-category drinks is expected to grow significantly over the forecast period on account of the rise in drinking population and various marketing and promotion activities adopted by the famous brands to target the drinking population in Australia.1 The number of glasses of all spirits combined has grown strongly for the past three years, from 49 million glasses in an average four week period in 2015 to 59 million in the year to September 2018 – a 21 per cent increase overall.2

What does this mean for cross-category drinks?

One notable trend is that alcohol is being combined to deliver familiar flavours through a new medium. Different types of alcohol are being blended together to continue the development of new cross-category drinks. The beer, wine and spirits categories are becoming even more blurred as businesses increasingly combine one, two or all three together to create new products. Spirit beers and pre-mixed spirit drinks have captured the minds of young millennials, appealing to their experimental attitude towards innovative flavour combinations. As a result, beer producers have followed the lead of the cider category.3

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 implications

One consequence of ‘category blur’ or ‘fusion’ is the broadening of risks to be managed under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. The Act stipulates that a person conducting a business or undertaking has a primary duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of workers and other persons are not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking.

Conventionally the industry has always needed to manage the risks associated with dangerous goods, now referred to as hazardous chemicals under the Globally Harmonised System. Whilst typical fermentation beers are not classified as hazardous chemicals (having less than 24% alcohol by volume), the industry does use a range of hazardous chemicals such as: cleaning in place (CIP) chemicals i.e. sodium hydroxide and nitric/phosphoric acid, refrigerants namely glycol and/or ammonia as well as CO2, a by-product of fermentation process. If not properly managed these materials can pose a real threat to individuals involved in operations.

The growth of mixed drinks and new distilleries has increased the storage and handling of high strength potable spirits. Where the alcohol strength exceeds 24%, additional precautions are required such as classification of hazardous zones and the installation of specially certified electrical equipment. In addition AS1940 – The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids becomes applicable providing design guidelines that affect site layout, drainage and firefighting requirements.

The WHS Act Regulations include specific duties for a person conducting a business or undertaking to manage the risks to health and safety associated with using, handling, generating and storing hazardous chemicals at a workplace. Some of these duties include: identifying hazards, assessing risks, implementing appropriate controls, correct labelling of containers, provision of spill containment systems, emergency preparedness and providing current Safety Data Sheets in the workplace.4

Expertise to ensure compliance

When planning such facilities hazardous chemicals safety considerations must be identified and managed in accordance with council regulations. Spent grain discharge, waste water elimination, trub removal, tank CIP drainage and spent yeast removal require careful consideration when planning and designing brewing systems, whether for small or large scale operations, existing or new-builds.

In summary, regardless of the size of the operations it is essential to conduct a careful risk analysis in the workplace to guarantee the safety of everyone involved in the business practice. Strong focus in workplace safety is key to support a healthy growth of the industry and consolidate Australia as a major player in the brewing industry.

TfA personnel have extensive experience in brewing and beverage plants, including the storage and handling of hazardous chemicals. In addition, TfA are members of the Australasian Institute of Dangerous Goods Consultants. We can assist with Town Planning issues, project master planning, feasibility, project management and design through to compliance auditing.

For queries in relation to any brewery safety matters or brewing and beverage plant projects, please contact
Bhavisha Kallichurn who would be happy to discuss further.

References:
1 DUBLIN—-(BUSINESS WIRE)–The “Australia Alcoholic Drinks Market Size and Forecast by Type (Beer, Cider & Flavored Alcoholic 2 Beverage, Wine, Spirits) by Distribution Channel (Off-Trade, On-Trade) and Trend Analysis, 2015-2025″
2 National liquor news – The huge shifts changing alcohol retailing in Australia – 26 March, 2019 by Deborah Jackson
3 By WINE AUSTRALIA on 20 APR 2017 in TRENDS
4 Code of Practice – Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the workplace

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