Gruenstadt Plant Begins Production of Freedom’s Choice Bottled Water for Commissaries

Freedoms Choice

An Exchange and Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) collaborative effort, leveraging the Exchange’s Gruenstadt water plant, is ensuring a steady flow of fresh, locally sourced purified drinking water for service members and their families across Europe.

Bottles of Freedom’s Choice purified drinking water, the Defense Commissary Agency’s private-label water brand, roll down the production line at the Exchange’s Gruenstadt water plant in Germany. The first shipments of the water, which is produced through a collaborative effort between the Exchange and DeCA, arrived at Europe commissaries last week.

Freedom’s Choice is DeCA’s private-label bottled water brand. The product joins Culligan and the Exchange’s own private-label brand, Nature’s Recipe, as the third line of water bottled at the plant.

“When DeCA and the Exchange work together, the entire military community benefits,” said Exchange Director/CEO Tom Shull. “Access to clean, potable water is critical to readiness and resiliency, and this strengthened partnership helps ensure safe drinking water will continue to be readily available and affordable at European commissaries.”

The seeds of the new partnership were planted last summer, when DeCA Director and CEO Bill Moore joined Exchange Europe/Africa/Southwest Asia Region Senior Vice President Marla Randolph for a tour of the Exchange’s 92,000-square-foot Gruenstadt plant, which also houses the bakery where the Exchange produces name-brand bread, cakes and other goods for Exchange Express stores and restaurants; commissaries; military dining halls; Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities; Department of Defense schools; and other DoD entities throughout Europe.

Impressed with the plant’s water bottling operation, Moore floated the idea of having the Exchange produce Freedom’s Choice for the commissary. Efforts to launch the initiative began in earnest the following spring, with Exchange Gruenstadt Depot Food Plant Operations Manager Don Henson and Water Plant Manager Holger Dittmann taking the lead. Additional support was provided by the Finance and Accounting office as well as Randolph and her team.

“Our service members and their families are winners whenever their commissaries and exchanges collaborate,” Moore said. “The Exchange bottling our Freedom’s Choice Water in Germany allows us to offer our patrons quality products at significant savings.”

The water, extracted from the deep wells of Gruenstadt, is produced to ensure exceptional taste and quality. First, it passes through a carbon filter and is softened to remove calcium ions. The water is then purified and sterilized by reverse osmosis before minerals are reintroduced. The final product sports labels designed by the Exchange in collaboration with DeCA.

“This effort further strengthens our partnership with DeCA,” Henson said. “Worldwide, DeCA is the Exchange’s biggest Food Plant Operations customer. Any time you have a partnership like this, it’s good for both agencies from the standpoint of that relationship.”

Freedom’s Choice is available in 500-milliliter and 1-liter bottles. Production volume will be dictated by ongoing demand, Henson said.

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