Over 1.1 million bottled water coolers had been installed across East Europe by the end of 2005, 16% more than in 2004, according to the sixth report on East Europe Water Coolers from specialist drinks consultancy Zenith International. Two thirds of these were electric and the remaining were dispensers or hand pumps. At over 1,000 million liters, 2005 sales through coolers have risen to 9.5% of total bottled water consumption, compared with just 4% in 1999.
Russia is the leading country with a 35% volume share, slightly ahead of Poland at 34%. Then there is a substantial gap before reaching Romania at 6%, followed by the Czech Republic and Ukraine, each at 4%. Almost all markets experienced substantial growth in 2005, with 12 of the 15 countries analyzed exceeding a 15% increase.
“The east European water cooler market has consistently added around 150,000 bottled water coolers every year, and there remains significant potential across the region,” said Zenith Research Director Gary Roethenbaugh. “In particular, countries to the south including Romania, Serbia and Croatia have enjoyed growth rates far above the average, at nearly 30%. Meanwhile, countries within the European Union have averaged over 9% growth—strongly influenced by the large and mature Polish market.”
Major players Danone Springs of Eden and Nestlé Waters are now well established in the region, having acquired local operators several years back. Nestlé Waters is the overall leader, with sizeable operations in Poland and Russia. Danone Springs of Eden comes second, followed by the Clear Water Company in Russia, Gelsva in Lithuania and La Fantana in Romania.
Zenith expects total cooler numbers to double by 2010, with the majority of new placements coming from electric machines. On this basis, sales through coolers should pass the 2,000 million liter mark in 2010.