Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bionade: Es bitte kaufen

A German manufacturer is embarking on an effort to get its organic soda a place on the global beverage stage.

Bionade, a low-calorie carbonated beverage sold in orange ginger, elderberry, lychee and herb flavors, is the hot non-alcoholic drink of the moment in German bars and clubs, particularly in Hamburg, Germany's media capital.

"We plan to go into the whole of old Europe this year as well as the U.S., and the Canadian and Japanese markets," Peter Kowalsky, chief executive of the privately held firm, told Reuters. "It is the first and only non-alcoholic refreshment drink produced by a purely organic process."

Getting international acceptance might be tricky because Kowalsky said Bionade will continue its advertising-averse stance. He prefers word-of-mouth and news media mentions to drive sales. Which seems to be working on a regional basis since Bionade has tripled sales to 70 million bottles annually.

The drink was created in 1995 when Dieter Leipold, whose financially flailing family brewery was in trouble, came up with the idea of using brewing principles to create an organic soft drink. It is manufactured in the village of Ostheim in central Germany.

Reuters checked with several market analysts to predict Bionade's chances of international success.

"The United States in particular is a difficult market," said Patrik Schwendimann of ther ZKB brokerage in Switzerland. "It usually takes several years and a lot of patience to make any headway there."

"The difficulty is to find a foreign distributor," said Jens Pollmann, corporate consultant at Price Waterhouse Coopers' office in Dusseldorf, "but I wouldn't exclude the possibility that it'll work out for them in the end."

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