UK: Lidl to open first beverage plant outside of Germany

MEG, the leading bottler for mineral water and soft drinks in Germany, will soon start production at its first bottling plant outside of Germany. The new bottling facility was built in Dove Valley Park/Foston, a major industrial and distribution development on a former airfield site to the South-West of Derby/Derbyshire, UK.

The water comes from boreholes in a depth of over 60 meters (200ft) to ascertain the water quality and capacity. The aquifer is reported to contain water that has percolated through over the last 400 years or more.

Planning permission for the new plant was granted in December 2019 and MEG has since invested more than GBP 50m (USD 60m).

The company belongs to the Schwarz Gruppe which is known for its Lidl and Kaufland retail markets. The new Derbyshire plant is supposed to supply Lidl with mineral water and soft drinks for supermarkets in the UK and Ireland.

Lidl operates over 11,000 stores across Europe and the United States and is a major competitor of the other major German discount chain Aldi in several markets. Lidl opened its first UK store in 1994 and has since grown to a total of 935 markets and 13 warehouses and offices in the UK and 174 markets in Ireland. It grocery market share in the UK amounted to 5.9% in 2019.

MEG is currently hiring about 100 employees for the Dove Valley Park plant. The initial plans indicated that more than 150 jobs would be created.

MEG is the largest bottler for mineral water and soft drinks in Germany. In 2022, the group produced nearly 41 million hectoliters (hl) mainly of its own B and C brands Saskia, Freeway, Schlossblick, Kong Energy, Bio, Solevita and K-Classic. The production was nearly twice as much as the one of its closest competitor Refresco with about 24 million hl.

MEG operates six bottling plants (Weissenfels, Leissling, Jessen, Löningen, Kirkel and Wörth am Rhein) and three preform and recycling plants (Rossbach, Neuensalz, Übach-Palneberg)  in Germany.

MEG is not the only subsidiary of Schwarz Group to produce food and beverages. Next to MEG (beverages), there is Solent (chocolate and healthy snacks), Bonback (bakery products), Bon Gelati (icecream) and Bon Presso (Coffee). Schwarz Produktion currently operates sixteen sites: twelve production plants and four business management units that are responsible for group-wide business administration aspects.

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