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More than 150,000 new bottled water coolers were installed across East Europe during 2006, bringing total placements to 1.3 million, a 13% increase on 2005, according to the 7th annual report on East Europe Water Coolers from global drinks consultancy Zenith International. At 1,230 million litres, 2006 sales through coolers rose to 10% of total bottled water consumption, compared with just 4% in 1999.
"The East European water cooler market continues to flourish, in contrast to relatively flat sales for the more mature West European market," observed Zenith Research Director Gary Roethenbaugh. "There remains significant potential across the region – and 2007 looks set to be another successful year."
Russia is the leading country with a 36% volume share, ahead of historic leader Poland now on 31%. Then there is a substantial gap before Romania on 6%, followed by the Czech Republic and Ukraine, each at 4%. Almost all markets experienced substantial growth in 2006, with 12 of the 15 countries analysed exceeding a 15% increase. Growth is currently being led by Belarus and Serbia-Montenegro, both countries enjoying rises far above the average, at over 40%. Meanwhile, countries within the European Union have averaged 9% growth, heavily influenced by the large and mature Polish market."
Nestlé Waters is the overall leader in the region, with sizeable operations in Poland and Russia. Eden Springs comes second, followed by the Clear Water Company in Russia, Gelsva in Lithuania and La Fantana in Romania.
Unlike West Europe, mains-fed water coolers have yet to gain a foothold in the region, although there are signs of early adoption in some of Russia's major cities. "With limited competing technologies, the prospects for bottled coolers in East Europe will remain buoyant for several years to come," continued Gary Roethenbaugh.
Zenith expects cooler numbers in East Europe to double again within five years. On this basis, sales volumes should reach 2,400 million litres in 2011.