East Europe water coolers return to growth

Bill Bruce27 Oct 2011 (Updated 28 Oct 2011)

The East European water cooler industry regained momentum in 2010, with the total installed base of water coolers and dispensers rising 0.6% to 1.56 million units, according to the latest findings from Zenith International.

The sector benefited in particular from a return to economic growth for many of the region’s markets, helping to renew business and consumer confidence.

Consumption of bulk water also increased, boosted by a record-breaking heatwave which affected many countries in the summer of 2010. Consequently, water demand outpaced unit placements, with sales volumes climbing 4.9% to 1,670 million litres during the year.

Russia and Poland remain by far the largest bottled water cooler markets in the region, in terms of both units and volumes. Russia retains its leadership, with 38% of units and 32% of volume. However, as the early-adopting markets begin to mature, faster growing countries such as Slovakia and Estonia are expanding their share.

Offices and other commercial premises have been integral to the development of the cooler industry in East Europe. These locations continue to dominate placements, representing an average 82% of installations in 2010. The residential market, although growing, remains largely undeveloped, and is mostly represented by dispenser units.

Unlike West Europe, mains-fed point of use (POU) coolers have yet to make significant inroads in the East. POU coolers are now offered in many countries across the region, but uptake is still limited in most. Bottled cooler distributors do not consider POU a major threat to their core business, even in the countries where it has been most successful, notably Poland and Russia. However, as POU suppliers seek to demonstrate its convenience and potential cost savings, it is expected to pose a greater challenge to bottled cooler dominance in the longer term.

The overall market is predicted to remain in growth as the economic situation continues to improve. By 2015, Zenith forecasts that there will be over 2.1 million bottled water coolers, dispensers and pumps installed across East Europe.

Source: Zenith International