Romania holds over 60% of Europe’s mineral water resources and ranks 5th in the EU in terms of natural mineral water production.
Romania holds over 60% of Europe's mineral water resources and ranks 5th in the EU in terms of natural mineral water production. In time, numerous water-bottling centres have been set up around mineral water springs.
The region of Bukovina, in northern Romania, is one of the biggest producers on the Romanian natural mineral water market. With a turnover of around 40 million euros in 2015, its market value went up by 12% in 2016. This company that used to produce the Bukovina mineral water was sold two years ago to a Polish group that announced investment of 20 million euros in the mineral water factory in Vatra Dornei. In 2004, Borsec was designated the best bottled mineral water in the world at the most important competition in the field held in the US. In the past 18 years, the company has invested 220 million euros in the upgrading of its technological processes. The Borsec mineral water is now exported to 19 countries and accounts for about 5% of the total production.
Romania exports only 3 to 4% of the total amount of bottled mineral water it produces. The National Mineral Water Company, Romania's biggest sparkling water producer, is planning to invest 4.95 million lei in exploiting new mineral water springs and in purchasing several bottling factories over the next four years. Romania has a long-standing tradition in exploiting and trading mineral waters. Its underground springs have been exploited ever since ancient times, and have been bottled for over two centuries, as the General Manager of the National Mineral Water Company Radu Dumitru tells us:
"About 200 years ago Romania was among the world's top three mineral water producers in terms of quantity and quality. Between 1800 and 1900, Romanian mineral waters were awarded in all European capitals, such as Berlin and Vienna. For instance, the mineral water from Valcele, Romania, was competing at the time with the famous Karlovy Vary. Borsec was also very well known, having a 200-year long history behind. At a certain point we had four mineral water brands that started with the letter B, namely Borsec, Buzias, Biborteni and Bodoc, that were very well known at European level. We were also renowned for our therapeutic waters. Until the early 20th century we were among the first in this respect. At that time we were exporting mineral water in wooden barrels to Vienna, while personalities of the English royal houses used to come to Romania for treatment. So Romania stood very well in terms of mineral water quality and things have not changed in this respect."
Unfortunately, at present Romania does not have clear legislation for the water that is being bottled. Hundreds of water producers have emerged in recent years in spite of the fact that Romania only has 68 licensed brands. Radu Dumitru:
"The lack of clear legislation in terms of bottled water in Romania has allowed for the emergence of a new category of bottled water on the market, the so-called 'table water' or 'spring water', whose sale is not regulated at present, and which holds quite a lot of the mineral water market share. For example, mineral water consumption in Romania stands at around 3.2 billion litres per year. Of it, almost 1.5 billion is unlicensed and untested 'table water' or 'spring water'. This situation generated a decrease in mineral water sales. Nevertheless, around 1.7 billion litres of mineral water is sold every year in Romania."
There are only 30 mineral water bottling companies in Romania, while the other companies are local producers that operate without a licence. In this case, consumers find it hard to choose from among 20 or 30 types of water, many of which are sold at very low prices. As of this spring, Romania has a new list of licensed mineral waters approved by the National Mineral Water Company. Radu Dumitru:
"There are over 400 water bottling companies of which only 68 sell mineral water. There are some 10 important factories that produce mineral water. Many of the renowned brands with a long-standing tradition have disappeared from the market due to this phenomenon, at least in the past 10 years. I can safely say that only half of what's on sale on the market is carefully tested and consists solely of natural mineral waters. The other types of water on the market, such as table water or spring water are not thoroughly tested before being licensed. Mineral waters are tested frequently, based on various parameters. That is not the case with all other types of water. Also, all supermarkets have created their own brands of water but I don't think they have bottling factories. They bottle the water under their own brand at various small producers across the country so all kinds of table and spring water emerge on the market, which is not tested or licensed."
A Romanian drinks 50 to 55 litres of mineral water per year, half the European average. However, Romania has a huge potential as it boasts many undiscovered and unexploited springs. According to Radu Dumitru, Romania might become one of the big players on the world mineral water market having also the potential to cover the needs of European countries for another 25 years.