Germany: Message in a bottle takes off

While the home delivery market for food in Germany is now consolidated by 100 percent (, 13.12.2019), the fight for Germany’s home delivery market for beer and beverages is in full swing. Several companies are currently fighting for predominance in this segment.

Flaschenpost (German for message in a bottle), a home delivery service for bottled and canned beer and other beverages, was established in 2014 by entrepreneur Dieter Büchl in Münster/Germany. After experiencing some problems in the first years, the service has taken off in the last years and meanwhile reached an estimated turnover of more than EUR 50 million. 90 cities in Germany are already served from 14 locations including warehouses in Münster, Köln, Hamburg, Bremen, Mannheim, Düsseldorf, Hannover, Dortmund and Essen. The company opened this week its 15th location in Mönchengladbach near Düsseldorf. The long term goal is to cover all German cities of more than 250,000 inhabitants in Germany and later also in Switzerland and Austria.

The expansion is financed by various financial investors like German seed and early stage funds Vorwerk Direct Selling Ventures and Cherry Ventures, SFMS from Portugal and U.S. investment company Tiger Global that have altogether put more than EUR 70 million into the company (, 19.3.2019). Locations like Münster and Cologne have already reached break-even while others are still in the development stage.

In 2017, Germany’s beer market leader Radeberger Group, started a me-too concept with its Berlin based beverage distribution company Getränke Hoffmann and its small house-to-house beverage delivery service Durst Express.

Like Flaschenpost, Durst Express also guarantees a delivery in a given city within 90 minutes at prices which can be also found in local supermarkets. In contrast to Flaschenpost, Durst Express can profit from the financial strength, market know-how and extensive distribution network of its mother Radeberger Group. The German beer market leader has started a catch-up programme and will clash this summer for the first time with Flaschenpost in new markets like Hanover/Germany and Leipzig/Germany.

Durststrecke or short Durst, a Cologne/Germany-based startup from 2017, follows a slightly different approach. Instead of establishing own delivery units in every city, Durst provides an online platform to order beer and other beverages directly from a local beverage wholesaler. Durststrecke has at the moment partners in 9 German cities including Bremen, Dresden, Essen, Frankfurt/Main, Gelsenkirchen, Cologne, Krefeld, Leverkusen and Offenbach. In May 2019, FÜR SIE Handelsgenossenschaft a subsidiary of Germany’s second biggest food retailer REWE, acquired a minority stake in Durststrecke.

Another innovative concept is followed by, a website specialized in home delivery of kegged beer (, 19.12.2018). The beer is ordered online and delivered directly from the brewery to the final consumer via a courier service like DHL or DPD. Consumers can tap their beer either through a professional tapping system or via a party pump which is a cheap and simple-to-use device which does not need gas cylinders or electricity. Since the website only offers one-way kegs there is no need to return the empty kegs after use.

House-to-house delivery of beverages is not new to Germany. In fact, many local breweries and beverage wholesalers already offer for decades home-delivery of their products. Few breweries like Brauerei Rapp from the Bavarian village of Kutzenhausen have even specialized in home-delivery service throughout the whole south of Germany.

The difference comes now from an easy-to-use online ordering service and payment system. Customers don’t need to look up the address and phone number of their local beverage provider and they are not bound any more to office hours. This makes ordering much easier. Additionally, delivery is often done within hours, a service that consumers expect in the era of internet.

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