Bottled water sales in Eastern Europe rose by 17% in 2007 to EUR5bn, a new report has said.

The growth means water sales by value have nearly doubled since 2000, said Zenith International, the global beverage market consultancy group, which published the report today (14 October).

Volume sales across Eastern Europe rose 10% to 13.2bn litres last year, it said, predicting further growth based on the fact that consumption remains well below the more mature Western Europe market.

"Countries with the lowest uptake include Russia on 19 litres per person, Belarus on 23 litres and Ukraine on 27 litres," said Zenith market intelligence director Gary Roethenbaugh. "This represents an attractive opportunity for new market entrants as well as existing players."

Serbia achieved the highest growth rate in 2007, increasing volume sales by 22%.

Zenith added that local brands continued to hold a strong influence. "Despite the active presence of global soft drinks heavyweights Coca-Cola Hellenic, Pepsi Bottling Group, Danone and Nestlé, it is interesting to note that they lead just three of the national markets between them."