There’s a Gold Rush Feel in Online Grocery Stores | Free Press

Düsseldorf (dpa) – The Oetker Group takes over the delivery service for drinks in a bottle and is reportedly paying € 1 billion for it.

Edeka is stepping up its commitment to the Picnic online delivery service and is also doing business outside of Germany. And Danone has recently started selling Milupa and Aptamil baby food in its own online store. The crown crisis has changed the buying behavior of many consumers: retail chains and brand manufacturers are trying to react to it.

“There is a feeling of a gold rush among online shopkeepers. The Crown year is probably the year the dikes are broken when it comes to e-food, ”says trade expert Gerrit Heinemann from the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences. Another industry expert says, “Everybody tries to get in position.”

The fact is, no other e-commerce sector currently has growth rates as high as the food trade. According to current figures from the industry association, sales in the third quarter were more than 50 percent higher than the prior year. The fear of infection and the triumph of the Ministry of the Interior have given an unexpected boom to the purchase of meat, fruits and vegetables through the Internet. And many retailers want to profit from it.

The most recent example is the Oetker Group. Well known is Dr. Oetker especially for his baking powder and frozen pizzas. But the family business also has a large beverage division, which includes Germany’s largest brewing group, Radeberger, with brands such as Jever, Schöfferhofer and Clausthaler, as well as the Henkell and Freixenet sparkling wine brands. Oetker now also takes over the fast growing online delivery service in a bottle.

The Bielefeld family business announced on Monday that the purchase contracts were signed a few days ago. According to information from the information service “Deutsche”, the purchase price is one billion euros. Oetker himself did not provide any information. The startup Bottle Post, founded in 2016, claims that it now delivers drinks to customers in 23 cities in 120 minutes. A company spokesperson stressed that Oetker sees a very good future for online delivery services and therefore decided to buy. The acquisition has not yet been approved by the Federal Cartel Office.

For retail expert Gerrit Heinemann, the move makes perfect sense: “Oetker wants to take advantage of the opportunities that are available now.” With Oetker and Radeberger Group behind them, Message in a Bottle will be able to expand much faster, and not just by expanding the delivery network. “Message in a bottle could in the future also supply beverages to the catering sector or, in addition to soft drinks and beer, also include food in its range”, speculates Heinemann.

Germany’s largest grocery retailer, Edeka, is also currently in the process of strengthening its e-commerce pillar. The retail giant acquired a stake in Dutch online grocery store Picnic some time ago and is now supplying it through a subsidiary as well. Now, according to information from the specialized magazine “Lebensmittel Zeitung”, the group wants to significantly increase its participation in Picnic International.

Edeka kills two birds with one stone. The retailer is strengthening its online pillar and at the same time opening up new growth opportunities abroad. After all, Picnic plans to launch in France, Britain and Spain shortly.

But not only distributors but also more and more brand manufacturers are looking for a direct line to customers. For example, Danone Group launched its own online store for its Milupa baby food brand in October. A similar offering for the Danone Aptamil brand has been available since August. “We see that for our parents … digital offerings are increasingly important,” explains a company spokesperson.

In the face of the pandemic, more and more retailers are apparently willing to bet on a breakthrough in online food trading. But there are also skeptics. Kai Hudetz of the Cologne Retail Research Institute (IFH) has doubts about the much vaunted dam failure despite the current boom in demand: “We must be careful not to simply continue with the current special situation, which is characterized for the crown. The question is whether consumers will still be willing to pay for a delivery service after the crisis. I am still skeptical about it. In the end, consumers in Germany are very frugal. “