History

 

One day, BIONADE appeared in all its really unusual flavours… and it’s still here to this day. That’s it! But, because our history is quite a bit more complex than that, you can of course read about it in more detail here:

 
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. And Dieter Leipold, a master brewer, had a simple idea back then. Because lots of people could brew beer. But what about a natural refreshing drink? Ideally a non-alcoholic one that contains significantly less sugar?! This had always been impossible up to this point.
1980 Bees are heroes. The solution came along 20 years after the idea. And the solution was: bees. Because bees can convert fructose into gluconic acid. An acid that keeps honey fresh and also stops the liquid we brew from becoming alcoholic like it normally would. That was the real start of the journey for Dieter Leipold. He got started together with his partner (who later became his wife), Siegrid, and his stepsons, Peter and Stephan. They all did their bit, even at home. Because it wasn’t just the Peter KG private brewery that they used as a laboratory, but also their family 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 locally as the “strange inventor”, but was on the verge of founding BIONADE. He just needed a name.
1990 BIONADE! Yep, there it is: the name – BIONADE. And how did they think of it? Fermentation and the conversion of sugar into gluconic acid is a biotechnical process. BIOtechnical, so BIONADE. It was just a lucky coincidence that it happened to also work with our BIOlogical and ecological philosophies later on...
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: those two are only being released in 2019.) No, it was lychee! Lychee was new. Lychee was a brave choice and lychees were only recently available locally in Bavaria. Health food shops, gyms and our first customers loved it.
1996 Lychee, elderberry and a lottery win. Lychee was just the start of the journey. Elderberry (then called Red Berry) was our second flavour, because the sales of the first flavour made us more confident. But despite this second flavour, the big breakthrough was still a while away.

When it came to their business, the family that set up the company were really struggling financially. The Leipolds were fighting to keep their brewery going and even working in their own disco in the evenings. Things eventually worked out thanks to a stroke of luck. Siegrid actually won a million Deutschmark in the lottery! And what did she do with it? She kept a very small amount for her family and invested the majority of it in BIONADE. 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 receives organic certification and becomes the first official organic soft drink to get this label.

But that wasn’t all: we also added the PET bottle so that people could drink BIONADE in schools and at swimming and sports clubs. Glass bottles are breakable and therefore are often not permitted in these locations. And that makes sense.
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 too. Ginger-Orange – an amazingly good choice!
2008 We 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. Because, thanks to this project, we have managed to offset the entire drinking water consumption required for all the BIONADE we bottle in a 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 judgement. People just don’t like it. And that’s exactly what we play on in our launch campaign. We use entertaining videos to show people in a market research group reacting to the new flavour: and their reactions are not exactly positive. 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. The story goes that around the same time as BioFach 2013 – which is the world’s leading trade fair for ecological consumer goods – we launched our own cola. It was less sweet and more lemony. It sounded like a great idea to us, but unfortunately it wasn’t exactly well received. It’s doesn’t exist anymore. These things happen.

In better news: we began working with NABU to help conserve and support the important orchard ecosystem. And this collaboration continues to do good to this day.
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 an astonishing 6 years after Instagram was launched, so we created an account! 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, it is managed by Dirk Hinkel and, 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 refreshing drinks. So sales and marketing were managed from Bad Vilbel from this point on.
2019 Finally mainstream. We did it in 2019: with our new Natural Orange and Natural Cloudy Lemon drinks, we finally brought out some totally normal flavours. Ha! Of course, they are still top-quality, organic, low-sugar products but, well, that’s normal for us too.

Oh yes: we also released a really smart new design for the labels at the same time. A really good 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: