In a move that marks a significant step into the burgeoning market of plant-based beverages, the Bitburger Brewery Group and German jam and fruit preparation manufacturer Zentis have announced plans to establish a joint venture. The announcement was made public by the German Federal Cartel Office.
The joint venture aims to focus on the distribution of "grain- and nut-based, particularly oat-based, raw materials for the production of milk substitute products," according to the two consumer goods manufacturers. Industry experts speculate that the collaboration is strategically positioned to tap into the thriving market for plant-based drinks. Both companies declined to comment further on the business.
Bitburger Brewery Group, including the Family Office of the founding family, had previously shown interest in the plant-based drinks segment. This is evidenced by its involvement with Mighty Drinks, a startup focused on plant-based drinks. Notably, Bitburger's subsidiary, Licher Brewery, has been engaged in the production of milk alternatives since last year.
In July 2022, Bitburger had entered into an agreement to supply byproducts from its beer production to Mushlabs, a German startup focusing on developing meat alternatives using mycelium through precision fermentation.
Zentis, the manufacturer based in Aachen known for fruit preparation, jam, and confectionery, has already made its foray into the realm of vegan ingredients. The company provides various plant-based dairy product ingredients, including those for non-dairy yogurts, desserts, cream cheese, and ice cream, to partnering businesses.
In addition to its ventures in this field, Zentis has also demonstrated its involvement in the vegan food sector. As of 2021, the company has held an investment position in Haferkater, a vegan porridge producer.
Germany, recognized as Europe's largest market for plant-based food, has witnessed a substantial surge in plant-based milk sales, registering a 13% increase to EUR 552 million in the past year alone.
The proposed headquarters of the joint venture, as revealed by the Cartel Office, will be situated in Rheinland-Pfalz, potentially in Bitburg, where the brewery also holds its base of operations. This strategic move is poised to leverage the expertise of both companies and capitalize on the evolving preferences of consumers seeking plant-based alternatives.
With the announcement of this joint venture, Bitburger Brewery Group and Zentis are poised to contribute to the transformation of the beverage industry, offering new plant-based options for consumers seeking healthier and environmentally conscious choices.