The total number of water coolers installed slipped by 6.6% in 2009

The total number of water coolers installed slipped by 6.6% in 2009

Growth in the Eastern European water cooler industry suffered a setback in 2009 due to the global recession, but is expected to recover quickly, according to research from Zenith International.

Figures by the drinks consultancy revealed that the total number installed slipped by 6.6% to 1.55bn units in 2009, as customers cut back on spending.

The "challenging external conditions" also affected consumer demand for bulk water, leading sales volumes to dip by 8.5% to 1.59bn litres.

"Bottled water coolers are the most common type of unit, with Lithuania and Belarus the only countries where dispensers and pumps represent the majority of installations," said Zenith senior market analyst, Charmaine Holmes. "Dispensers and pumps are most popular in domestic settings, serving as a replacement for tap water and an alternative to bottled water available through retail outlets. In 2009 they accounted for just over 30% of placements."

Russia and Poland are the largest bottled cooler markets in the region, according to Zenith, both in terms of units and volumes. And whilst Russia remains the bigger overall, Poland reported one of the most positive performances in 2009, as the only country in the region not to fall into recession.

Nonetheless, the market is expected to return quickly to growth as the economic situation improves, Zenith predicted, enabling operators to recoup lost contracts. By 2014, Zenith predicts that there will be just over 2m bottled water coolers, dispensers and pumps installed across East Europe.

The 2010 Zenith Report on East Europe Water Coolers has been published on and can be found here.

East Europe Cooler numbers 2005-09

East Europe Cooler countries 2009