Bottled water sales in East Europe have seen double digit growth in each of the past five years, reaching more than 6,300 million litres in 2001, according to the 2002 East Europe Bottled Water Report from leading drinks consultancy Zenith International. Despite the economic difficulties experienced by the region in the late 1990s, volume has jumped by almost 90 percent since 1996.
"The market grew in all of the 15 East European countries covered by Zenith's research, gaining an overall 11.5 percent in 2001," commented Zenith Research Director Gary Roethenbaugh. "Consumption has nearly doubled from 10 litres per person in 1996 to just short of 20 litres per person in 2001, but remains a long way behind the West European average which is set to pass 100 litres per person in 2002."
Thanks to a strong tradition, sparkling water dominates the East European market, taking more than two thirds of total volume. Still water, however, has doubled its share from 16 percent in 1996 to 32 percent in 2001. "Growing awareness of health benefits and widespread poor tap water quality have paved the way for the bottled water industry. This helps explain the rapid growth of East Europes youthful water cooler market and underlies the recent boost in still water consumption," added Gary Roethenbaugh.
Poland and Russia were the two leading countries in 2001, achieving a combined 45 percent share. With much smaller populations and a greater concentration of industry activity, Slovenia and Croatia had the highest consumption levels at over 50 litres per person.
"The global big four in bottled water Coca-Cola, Danone, Nestlé Waters and PepsiCo have all spotted the opportunity in East Europe and have become the market leaders, but there are also many successful local players such as Jamnica in Croatia, Knjaz Milos in Serbia and Karlovarske in the Czech Republic," continued Gary Roethenbaugh. "In an environment of growing acquisition activity and aggressive price discounting, bottled water looks set for sustained growth and change." Zenith projects bottled water sales edging towards 10,000 million litres by 2006.