History

 

Once upon a time BIONADE appeared in all its unusual flavours…and surprise, it’s still here to this day.
By the way our history is a bit more complex than you would have thought, that’s why you should read about it in more detail:

 
1960
1980
1989
1990
1994
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2002
2005
2006
2008
2009
2013
2015
2016
2018
2019
2051
2137
1960 The lightbulb moment. The simplest ideas are often the best. Dieter Leipold, a master brewer, had a simple idea back then. Anyone can brew beer but what about a natural refreshing drink? Ideally a non-alcoholic one that contains significantly less sugar?! This had always been impossible...well, up to this point.
1980 Bees are heroes. The solution came along 20 years after the idea. And the solution was: bees. Due to the bees ability to convert fructose into gluconic acid. An acid that keeps honey fresh and also prevents the liquid we brew from containing alcohol like it normally would. That was the real start of Dieter Leipolds journey. Everything started together with his partner (who later became his wife), Siegrid and his stepsons, Peter and Stephan. They all did the most possible, even at home. It wasn't only the Peter KG Brewery they used as a laboratory, they also used their own bathroom at home.
1989 Dieter, the inventor. Do you know that cheesy motivational quote? “Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall.” This really was true for Dieter Leipold. Because he just kept going until he eventually figured out how to convert sugar into gluconic acid. And then suddenly he was no longer known as the „strange inventor“, he was on the verge of founding BIONADE. All he needed was a name.
1990 BIONADE! Yep, there it is: the name – BIONADE. You may ask yourself: how did it come to this name? Well BIONADE is made by fermentation and the conversion of sugar into gluconic acid, this is called a biotechnical process. BIOtechnical, like BIONADE. It was just a small coincidence that it happened to also work with our BIOlogical and ecological philosophy…
1994 The patent. The unique production process behind BIONADE was patented in Munich on 24 February 1994. And, shortly thereafter, the very first flavour was released. Lemon? Orange? (Spoiler: Spoiler: those two were released in 2019.) No, it was lychee! Lychee was new. Lychee was a brave choice and suddenly lychees were avaliable in Bavaria. Health food shops, gyms and our first customers loved it.
1996 Lychee, elderberry and a lottery win. Lychee was only the start of our journey. The sales of our first flavour made us so confident we launched our second flavour elderberry (then called Red Berry). Despite bringing out our second flavour, the breakthrough was still a long shot away.

When it came down to business the family was struggeling. Financially, BIONADE wasn't doing well. The Leipolds were fighting to keep their brewery running and even started working in their own disco. Things eventually worked out, thanks to a stroke of luck. We're not kidding, Siegrid actually won a million Deutschmark in the lottery! Guess what she did with the money? She kept a marginal amount for her family and invested the rest into BIONADE. Simply amazing!
1997 Dieter Leipold – master brewer, designer, all-rounder. Dieter Leipold didn’t just set up BIONADE – he also designed the brand-new labels for the bottles in 1997, including the red, white and blue circles that still form our trademark today.
1998 We become a household name overnight. We’d like to say that we didn’t exactly plan it like that. But we did. The fact that BIONADE became a household name more or less overnight is absolutely down to the Hamburg-based drinks wholesaler who discovered our flavours. All of a sudden, our Lychee and Elderberry drinks were available in pubs, cafés, clubs and kiosks. Thank you, Mr Wholesaler!
1999 Three is a party. Lychee and Elderberry get a new friend: the new Herbal BIONADE. And it doesn’t just taste good – it also turns BIONADE into a drink people like to enjoy on the sandy beaches of Hamburg.
2000 And then the organic label too... 2 years before the euro was introduced, we had another great success: BIONADE received the organic certification and became the first official organic soft drink with this label.
But that wasn't it: we also added the PET bottle so that people could drink BIONADE in schools at public swimming pools and sporting events. Glass bottles are breakable and therefore often not permitted in these locations.
2002 Germany loves BIONADE. That was a successful year: outside of Hamburg, people in Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne, Stuttgart and Würzburg were absolutely loving our unique and refreshing drink.

Time for a couple of real business moves: BIONADE International GmbH was set up in order to place greater focus on exports. And another majority shareholder got involved: Rhön-Sprudel took over 51% of BIONADE GmbH. And that all still sounds completely insane.
2005 Our hearts belong at home. This wasn’t a marketing ploy back then, and it isn’t one now either: BIONADE is close to the heart of the whole region. That’s why, in 2005, we worked with Ostheim organic farmer Martin Ritter to launch the Rhön Organic Farming Project. This means we can now guarantee that our raw ingredients – like organic malting barley and elderberry – are totally natural, that our transport distances are reduced and that new opportunities are created for people in the Rhön region. We remain really proud of this decision.
2006 Almost a normal flavour. That year we almost succeeded in launching a new flavour that was totally normal. But then we kind of just had to add ginger. Ginger-Orange – an amazingly good choice!
2008 Time to give something back. Working together with a drinking water organisation, we have planted 11 forests, covering a total area of 65 hectares. That’s more than 90 football pitches and it’s our way of giving something back to nature. Thanks to this project we have managed to offset the entire drinking water consumption that's required for all the BIONADE we bottle/produce in one year.
2009 Quince?! We launched another new flavour. And what a choice: quince! It’s a fruit that’s full of vitamin C, tannins and and prejudices. An that's exactly how we advertise our product in the launch campaign. We use entertaining videos that shows people reacting to our new flavour. And their reactions are not positive, not at all. And that’s exactly why people love it. Eugh!

In order to launch a campaign of this kind, and at the same time produce 5 flavours, we need a strong partner. Radeberger Gruppe KG set up a joint venture and obtained 70% of the shares.
2013 Cola-gate. We’re honest, right? So we don't hide the truth when it comes to cola-gate. This is how the story went down: during the Biofach in 2013 – which is the world's largest trade fair for ecological consumer goods – we launched our own organic cola. It was less sweet and more lemony than others. To us it sounded like a great idea, but unfortunately our consumers didn't see it the same way. And now it doesn't exist anymore. Sometimes bad things happen.

Better news: we began to work with NABU in 2013, to help conserve and support the important orchard ecosystem. And to this day this collaboration still continues.
2015 Bergawhat?? Everyone knows lemon. Nobody had ever heard of bergamot. At least not until 2015. And then we launched BIONADE Lemon-Bergamot, with an extra refreshing and even sharper flavour.
2016 And we finally got Instagram too. We were finally ready to join the club after an astonishing 6 years after Instagram was launched. Take a look now.
2018 Hello Hassia! That family feeling again: BIONADE has been part of the Hassia Group since 2018.

Now in the 5th generation Hassia is managed by Dirk Hinkel. With 150 years of history, the Hassia Group comes in at second place in the national sales rankings for German brand suppliers of non-alcoholic soft drinks. Sales and marketing are now managed from Bad Vilbel.
2019 Finally mainstream. We did it in 2019: with our new Cloudy Orange and Cloudy Lemon drinks, we finally brought out some normal flavours. Ha! Of course they are still top-quality, organic, low-sugar products, well that's normal for us too.

Oh yes: at the same time we also released a really smart new design for our labels. An outstanding year.
2051 The next stroke of genius. After our two natural mainstream orange and lemon flavours, we are now working hard to develop the next sensation: Sparkling Apple! The time is flying by but we’re still optimistic that we can get it ready in time. #pioneers
2137 The Rhön area always stays true to its roots. Flying buses? Extra-terrestrial intelligence? Teleportation technology? If we had one wish for the future, it would be for the Rhön area to remain the amazing biosphere reserve that it is today. Of course, we will do everything we can to ensure that nature remains a priority here.
Enough history? Find out about our production process here: