By Andrey Mitchenko, PhD and Tanya Lubner, PhD
The Ukrainian POU/POE water treatment industry, as well as the Ukrainian water treatment market itself, is still quite young and undeveloped. Thanks to the confluence of a number of favorable factors, however, the capacity and opportunities for growth are great.
- Ukraine is a large country in the very center of Europe with a population of 45.7 million, the majority of which lives in an urban environment.
- 70 percent of the water supply is surface sources and falls into the two worst categories of drinking water quality.
- A large variety of water problems exist (hardness, iron, manganese, NOM, nitrates, H2S etc.).
- There is a lack of funds at the government level for resolution of water problems.
- High demand exists amid the nation’s industry, especially from power plants (five nuclear power plants and about 50 thermal power plants) for high-purity water.
- On-going restructuring of food-related and other enterprises to conform to European Union (EU) standards will provide additional market opportunities.
- It’s an unsaturated water treatment market with a potential of 30- to 40-percent annual growth.
- There is a deficiency in the availability of national water treatment technologies and manufacturers.
- There is a growing understanding among residential end users for the need to filter drinking water. Some former Soviet Republics prefer to buy from or via Ukraine.
While there is no official data on the volume and structure of the Ukrainian water treatment market, leading specialists agree that there is probably a current total volume of $100 million (USD). Current estimates suggest that the market is supporting roughly 1,000 companies and 15,000 employees and other individuals. The three main shares are: POE (commercial and residential), 40 percent; POU, 30 percent and industrial, 30 percent (which is split evenly between materials and projects). The best known companies in the POU arena are Aquaphor (Russia), Barrier (Russia), Brita (Germany), Ecosoft (Ukraine) and Geizer (Russia). The most popular POU units are filter pitchers, but undersink sorption, two- to three- stage filters are gaining in popularity, and nearly equal to these are reverse osmosis systems. The main players in the commercial and industrial sectors are EcoSoft, Jurby, BWT, HydroTech Engineering Co. Ltd. (Water Group Ltd. OY) and EcoWater. The main sales channels for residential products are distribution, wholesalers, installers* and specialized retail, DYI, and food and electronics supermarkets (primarily for POU). The most effective channels today are distribution and DYI.
*Installers are companies or specialists who are engaged in installation and service of household appliances, including water treatment equipment. Based on data from WaterNet’s Academy of Water Treatment, they are highly interested in training on sales.
The role of WaterNet in the Ukrainian water market
One of the driving forces behind the development of this market is an organization created recently to provide advice, a space for learning and the opportunity for industry practitioners to raise their level of professionalism. WaterNet is a public, non- profit, non-governmental organization that was founded two years ago by leading Ukrainian water treatment specialists in response to public demand for safety and good-quality water. WaterNet unites professionals in the field of decentralized residential, commercial and industrial (POU/POE) water treatment. WaterNet currently has 100 members from 15 leading Ukrainian water treatment companies and 14 regions. Its mission is to upgrade the Ukrainian water industry with modern technology, business and ethical practices, and to educate customers on simple ways to obtain high-quality water, independent of municipalities.
- Educate water treatment specialists in sales, water chemistry, treatment technologies, etc., and give them a common language to communicate water problems and solutions.
- Expand the market by informing the public about water quality problems and the potential dangers of consuming untreated water.
- Hold seminars for industrial customers to show them the advantages of effective technologies and good service.
WaterNet has been engaged in a number of activities to meet its goals. Chief amont these have been:
- Publishing Water & Water Purification and Water & Water Purification: Scientific and Technical News magazines in Russian
- Promoting education through a new educational center (the Academy of Water Treatment), which offers eight regular courses and many special programs upon request (the most popular are for boiler and heater manufacturers). This program has reached out to almost 900 trainees over two years.
- Creating a ‘Water Quality Map’ that monitors water quality around the Ukraine. Currently, 8,000 samples have been analyzed.
- Development of an expert council to perform independent evaluation of water treatment projects for industrial and private customers.
- Hosting a compelling annual forum (Filters and Water Treatment Technologies) that provides a single platform for communication and interaction for all individuals involved in POU/POE water treatment.
The Water Quality Association has been actively working to help WaterNet’s educational efforts. WQA’s education department recently partnered with WaterNet to translate the association’s three main textbooks from the Certified Water Specialist study kit into Russian. The CWS exam has been translated into Russian as well. WaterNet is organizing public exam sessions, similar to those many state and regional WQAs conduct in the US. In fact, the first exam session was conducted May 18 and it was the first time the exam was delivered online. The 2012 Filters and Water Treatment Technologies forum was organized by WaterNet and Premier-Expo within the most popular and most visited engineering exhibition, Aqua-Therm Kiev, held May 15-18. This year’s exhibition had 41,000 visitors and 750 exhibitors. Of the participants in the forum, 50 percent were the main decision makers, 31 percent were owners and 34 percent were installers. The 2013 exhibition and forum is scheduled for May 14-17.
The 2012 forum included:
- All the main players in the POU/POE water market
- Educational seminars/training by Dow Europe and Clack Corporation
- Dealers’ workshop on handling the daily ups and downs of working in POU/POE water treatment
- A roundtable on implementation of the government program, Drinking Water of Ukraine: Introduction of WaterNet’s Water Quality Map project
- The first session of the WQA Certified Water Specialist Exam
Claudia Pilger, CWS-III, the export sales coordinator for Clack Corporation who attended the exhibition and the training commented on the impressive number of exhibitors, attendees and the wide scope of the show. “I spoke with very knowledgeable Russian and Ukrainian customers who were anxious to take the WQA Certification Exam, and about their interest in being part of a professional organization. It is important for them to be able to present themselves this way to their customers,” Pilger said.
The Ukrainian water treatment market is growing and provides many business opportunities. WaterNet stands ready to offer guidance on navigating it.
About the authors
Andrey Mitchenko, PhD, is President of WaterNet (www.waternet. com.ua). He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the Moscow State University (MGU) and his PhD in chemistry from the Kiev Institute of Sorption and Endoecology, where his thesis was based on improv- ing adsorption technologies for the removal of humic substances. In 1998, Dr. Mitchenko began as a manager with EcoSoft, a Ukrainian manufacturer of water treatment equipment, and then assumed the role of Director of Business Development. He can be reached via email at [email protected]
Tanya Lubner, PhD, has been the Water Quality Association’s Director of Education & Certification since 2005. She oversees the development of new program areas, creation of educational materials and exams. Prior to WQA, Dr. Lubner was a Sales Engineer for a manufacturer of modular optical spectroscopy instrumentation. Her PhD is in inorganic chemistry and her research was in the development of photochemically active compounds for application in cancer treatment and solar energy storage. Dr. Lubner can be reached at [email protected] or (630) 505-0160.