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Various flavours of Bionade

Bionade [ˌbi.(j)oˈnaːdə] is a range of organic fermented and carbonated beverages. Bionade is manufactured in the Bavarian town Ostheim vor der Rhön (Germany) by the Peter beer brewery now owned by Dieter Leipold.


Leipold got the idea of creating a nonalcoholic drink produced with the same principles and under the same purity laws used to brew beer:[1] not using corn syrup or other artificial additives and making it by fermentation. The drink would consist only of the natural ingredients malt, water, sugar, and fruit essences.[1] Leipold experimented for eight years, spending €1.5 million of the brewery owner Peter Kowalsky's money. His lab was a bathroom. He isolated a strain of bacteria capable of converting the sugar that normally becomes alcohol into nonalcoholic gluconic acid, which he used to ferment the new drink.[1]

Leipold refuses to divulge the exact chemical process he used to do this. He claims the gluconic acid strengthens the sugar's taste, so less sugar is needed. After fermentation, the natural flavors, elderberry, litchi, orange-ginger, quince and herb are added along with carbonation.[2][3]

All flavours of the beverage contain water, sugar, malt from barley (2%), carbon acid, calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. The herbal flavoured version also contains natural herb-aromas, the litchi flavoured version natural aroma, the elderberry flavoured version additionally contains concentrated elderberry juice and natural aromas and the orange-ginger flavoured bottles contain extract of ginger and natural aroma. The sugar, barley and elderberries originate from organic agriculture. [4]


As the early sales only reached a limited public, Kowalsky hired the marketing expert Wolfgang Blum in 1999. Blum devised a new marketing strategy for Bionade. A retro blue, white, and red logo was designed. The bottle was made out of clear glass (instead of brown) but the form was based on a classical vitreous longneck beer format. This eased the logistics of distributing the drink and also helped to sell Bionade in bars and nightclubs, as a non alcoholic drink looking like a beer.

The product was branded as a new trendy drink. As the company could not afford advertising on television or in the print media, it first went to sell Bionade in some bars and restaurants in Hamburg,[3] which were often frequented by Marketing and Advertisement people. Further Viral marketing attempts went for the sponsoring of sporting, cultural and kids' events all across Germany.[2]

Bionade emphasizes that it tastes like soft drinks, but is healthier than the average high-sugar soft drinks. The manufacturer supports the claim of healthiness by referring to the relatively low level of sugar, sodium and flavor-enhancing additives, the absence of phosphorus or a stabilizing agent, while both calcium and magnesium are present.[1] The website makes more health claims and suggests that calcium is needed for bones and teeth, for nerves and muscles, while magnesium is said to work against listlessness and fatigue.[5]


Leipold, the creator of Bionade, a trademark of Bionade GmbH, was the master brewer at Privatbrauerei Peter in Ostheim, a town in northern Bavaria with just 4,000 inhabitants, and a friend of the family that owned the brewery. He was worried about the future of the company, which was about to go bankrupt.[2][6]

Sales started in 1995. Bionade was first sold in health resorts and fitness centers and was even picked up by Hamburg's largest beverage distributor Göttsche in 1998, but did not reach consumers beyond this.[2][6]

By 2002-03 two million bottles of the drink were sold.[2] A wave of health awareness was sweeping Germany: for example, 75% of all Germans approved a ban on smoking in bars.[3] In 2004, Coca-Cola offered to buy the rights on the drink and the brand Bionade, the producer rejected the offer, citing its plans to expand internationally on its own.[7] Sales reached seven million in 2004, twenty million in 2005, seventy million in 2006, and 250 million are projected for the year 2007.[8]

Bionade also started being sold outside of Germany, by 2006 it reached Switzerland, Austria and the Benelux countries,[2] then it became available in Scandinavia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland.[9] In 2007, Bionade started its first advertising campaign. It launched the campaign under the slogan "Bionade. Das offizielle Getränk einer besseren Welt" ("Bionade. The official beverage of a better world"). This appealed to some of the protesters against the 33rd G8 summit, which was taking place in parallel in Heiligendamm, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania at the time and coined the stereotype that anti-globalization activists always drink the beverage. The campaign encompassed billboards in fifteen German cities and radio commercials.[10]

Kowalsky claims to be willing to promote Bionade as "Volksbrause", as a popular fizzy soft drink for different customers and market segments. The fact that Beatrice Guillaume-Grabisch, head of Coca Cola Germany was on record as "not being anxious"[3] about Bionade was seen as a sort of accolade for the newcomer on the highly diversified German market for soft drinks and mineral water.

In 2007 the beverage became available in the United States.[11][12][13] In 2006 seventy-three million bottles of Bionade were sold.[14] Bionade is already present in Austria, Australia, Switzerland, Scandinavia, the Benelux countries, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.

Bionade in Australia[edit]

In 2012, Sydney-based company Drinks Beverage Logistics Pty. Ltd. acquired Bionade's exclusive distributing rights in Australia. Market sales started in May and have since then spread all over the Sydney area. Bionade can be purchased in several organic convenience stores, trendy bars, cafés or at European-style restaurants.


  1. ^ a b c d Bryant, Miranda:Bionade: The health drink that looks like beer. The Independent. Accessed 2007-12-29.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Julie Treumann (January 2007). "A Brand-New Brew". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  3. ^ a b c d (German)Gertz, Holger: Die Volksbrause. Süddeutsche Zeitung. Accessed 2007-12-29.
  4. ^ Ingredient declaration on Bionade bottles in the Netherlands, July 2008. Organic certificate: DE-001_Öko-Kontrolstelle
  5. ^ Bionade. "BIONADE het natuurlijkste drankje van Europa". Bionade. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  6. ^ a b (German)Lauer, Marco: Der Wahnsinn in der Flasche. taz online. Accessed 2007-12-29.
  7. ^ Merrett, Neil: News briefs: Heineken, Grolsch and Bionade. Accessed 30-12-2007.
  8. ^ (German)Dengel, Birgit: Bionade plant Expansion in die USA. Financial Times Deutschland. Accessed December 30, 2007.
  9. ^ Smith, David Gordon: Organic Soda 'Made in Germany' Takes on the World. Spiegel Online International. Accessed December 30, 2007.
  10. ^ (German)Haustein-Teßmer, Oliver: Bionade umgarnt die durstigen Gipfel-Gegner. Welt online. Accessed December 30, 2007
  11. ^ Financial Times Deutschland, September 12, 2007, page 5
  12. ^ By 2007 200 million bottles of the drink were sold. David Gordon Smith (August 2007). "The Bionade Success Story; Organic Soda 'Made in Germany' Takes on the World". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  13. ^ Beverage Spectrum Magazine, September–October 2007, page 72
  14. ^ Oliver Haustein-Tessmer (June 2007). "Bionade umgarnt die durstigen Gipfel-Gegner" (in German). Die Welt. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 

External links[edit]