Of the estimated 400 sources of drinking water in the country, Serbia uses only one fifth and more than 30 companies are bottling mineral water.
Although the law does not allow selling a source of water to a foreigner, more than half of the bottled water in the market is in the hands of non-Serbian companies, writes the Danas daily.
It is estimated that up to 80% of the water in the market is foreign-owned; however, there are factories in Serbia that are in the hands of foreign companies, but are supported by Serbian capital.
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Coca-Cola, which recently privatised the company Bambi from Požarevac, bought the Vlasinka water plant 14 years ago, which produces one of the most popular waters in this area “Rosa”, for 21.5 million euro. Although, in the last two years, there has been talk about the fact that the most popular water brand in Serbia, Knjaz Milos, would have done the same, this has not yet happened.
Until a few days ago, Knjaz was owned by Mid Europa Partners which then subsequently sold it to PepsiCo and the Czech company Motoni 1873. The Czech company, which recently changed its name from KMV to Motoni 1873), is the largest distributor of soft drinks in Central Europe, and has been selling PepsiCo’s products for years.
All in all, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola control about 40% of the bottled water market in Serbia, but they are not the only foreigners in this sector. The Mivela water is bottled by Frikom which had been owned by the Croatian company Agrokor and is now in the hands of Forten Group which took over Agrokor.
Although there are a number of domestically owned companies, they occupy less of the market than those with foreign ownership. Perhaps the best known domestic brand, run by a Serbian businessman, is Voda Vrnjci, based in Belgrade. The Prolom water is owned by the Kuršumlija bottling plant, while the Nektar Company from Bačka Palanka owns the mineral water factory Heba from Bujanovac.
The Jazak water, produced in Fruška Gora, is owned by NIS (Petroleum Industry of Serbia), while after a series of problems and bankruptcy, Vojin Djordjevic has recently re-launched the production of Voda Voda.
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