More than 230,000 new bottled water coolers, dispensers and pumps were installed across East Europe during 2007, according to recent research.

The Eastern European bottled water cooler market has seen an 18% increase on 2006, according to the latest findings from drinks consultancy Zenith International.  

At 1.53 bn litres, 2007 sales through coolers rose to 11% of total bottled water consumption, compared with just 4% in 1999.

"East European countries that have become EU members now account for 47% of all cooler, dispenser and pump placements, led by Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Romania" said Zenith market intelligence director Gary Roethenbaugh.

Russia has been East Europe's biggest cooler market since the concept first gained a foothold in the early 1990s. In 2007, the country was responsible for 43% of units and 38% of volume. However, its share is being eroded year-on-year and smaller nations with increasingly dynamic economies are driving extra demand.

Romania has taken a place in the 2007 top five rankings for bottlers as well as distributors in East Europe through La Fantana. Poland's Nestlé Waters and Eden Springs achieved first and second place in both lists.

"By 2012, we are forecasting that 3.1m bottled coolers, dispensers and pumps will have been placed in East Europe, of which 1.1m will be in EU member states," Roethenbaugh added.  "International cooler industry heavyweights such as Nestlé, Eden and Culligan have already recognised the potential in this region and are looking to expand their presence in emerging East European cooler markets."