Air Up moves production to the Netherlands as part of nearshoring strategy

Air Up nearshoring

Air Up, a manufacturer of a scent-based flavoured water system revolving around aromatic pods fitted to refillable bottles, has moved production of its pods to the Netherlands. The pods were previously made in China and Turkey, but the German company wanted to bring the process closer to consumers for sustainability reasons. “We already have more than two million customers, mainly in Europe, despite only having started out in 2019,” states CEO Lena Jüngst. “This measure enables us to reduce a pod’s average transport distance to the customer by 97%. Our goal is to relocate our bottle production to Europe by the end of this year too.”

By Harm Beerens

Air Up was created as a graduation project by Lena Jüngst (pictured), who studied product design, in 2016. Today, she is the CEO of a company with 300 employees. During the opening of the new factory in Rotterdam, she looked back on her success story. “I wanted to do something with flavour and the fact that our primal brain tells us to eat sugar, fat and salt, when they are actually so bad for us. Together with a fellow student, I developed a product that uses aroma to evoke an enjoyable taste sensation, while you’re actually just drinking healthy water,” she said. “My graduation project attracted interest from investors who were keen to take the product to market. We got the first batch of 80,000 bottles produced in 2019, and we now have more than two million customers in Europe, plus we’re active in the USA. The Netherlands and Belgium are big markets for us, so that’s why we also opened a DC in the Dutch town of Veghel at the end of last year.”

Closer to consumers

Both the bottles and the replaceable pods were made in China initially, with the pods later being produced in Turkey too. Jüngst: “The manufacturing costs were lowest there, plus our investors knew a number of good suppliers. It was always our intention to produce closer to the consumer markets at a later stage. Our whole product is focused on sustainability, so we want to keep our supply chain transport distances as short as possible. This production plant in Rotterdam, which runs entirely on renewable energy, represents an important first step towards our sustainability goals. By the end of this year, our goal is also to be producing all our bottles in Europe, probably in Germany and Austria. If demand in the US continues to grow, we will certainly consider producing there as well.”

Production partner

Air Up has outsourced the production of the pods in Rotterdam to Euro Caps, a company that manufactures the coffee cups for Nescafé Dolce Gusto, among others. “Euro Caps is a perfect fit for us,” Jüngst stated. “They have high-quality manufacturing knowledge and experience in developing automated production lines from scratch for products like ours. But perhaps more importantly, they have the same mentality as us. Founder Nils Clement (pictured) is an entrepreneur – someone who has a proactive, problem-solving approach and who, like us, is focused on innovation and sustainability. Nobody can predict exactly how demand will develop, so you don’t want a production partner who constantly demands guarantees. At Euro Caps, they are keen to support our business success and are willing to take risks in the process.”