Local Naturaqua Plant Has Supplied 3 Billion Liters of Mineral Water Over Last 20 Years

  • 7 Sep 2022 1:02 PM
Local Naturaqua Plant Has Supplied 3 Billion Liters of Mineral Water Over Last 20 Years
Today, it is more and more clear that water is one of our primary natural resources, and drinking water is much more than just a simple thirst-quencher: it refreshes, energizes, provides the human body with vitamins and useful trace elements, helps to maintain a balanced lifestyle, and keeps you fit during sport or a hard working day.

One of Hungary's favourite mineral waters is Naturaqua. The water from Zala, which has been filtered for 14,000 years is bottled at Coca-Cola HBC Hungary's plant in Zalaszentgrót, which turns 20 years old in September.

As the largest domestic beverage company, Coca-Cola HBC Hungary is aiming to create a Central European production base in Hungary. It is part of the company's 24/7 strategy to offer a wide product portfolio to meet every consumer need.

20 years ago, natural mineral water was not part of the growing supply, but as mineral water consumption increased, the market demand for it grew.

That is why two decades ago, after analyzing the water quality and composition of 25 springs in Hungary, the decision was made to build a bottling plant for Coca-Cola HBC Hungary in Zalaszentgrót.

Zalaszentgrót has great conditions, under the city at a depth of more than 600 meters, there is 14 thousand years of filtered, high-quality thermal water.

The mineral content of the water of Zalaszentgrót, extracted from a depth of 680 meters, is physiologically optimal and balanced, which gives it its pleasant taste.

20 years, HUF 19 billion contribution to the Hungarian economy

The plant, which has a total of three wells and currently produces mineral water-based products for export to three countries, has a capacity to bottle up to 220 million liters of water per year, which means 900,000 liters of water per day, giving Coca-Cola HBC Hungary a dominant position in the domestic mineral water market.

The pride of the company, and the main brand of the plant, is Naturaqua, produced in Zalaszentgrót, which is a stable player in the mineral water market for 20 years.

For the months of July 2021 to July 2022, the brand's sales grew by 118 percent in terms of value, exceeding the market, while the natural mineral water market increased by a total of 33.5 percent in value over the same period.

The greenfield project was launched in 2002 and the development cost more than HUF 2 billion (EUR 3 million) at that time value. Between 2002 and 2022, Coca-Cola HBC Hungary invested around HUF 19 billion in its plant in Zalaszentgrót.

Most of the long-term investments were for capacity expansion, technological innovation, and environmental improvements.

Notable among these projects are the Smartwater development in 2017-2018 worth nearly HUF 1.5 billion, the warehouse expansion and other property improvements worth more than HUF 600 million, the upgrading of the plant's air purifying system worth around HUF 325 million, and the capacity increase investment worth HUF 310 million.

"We are proud to have been a stable player in the Hungarian natural mineral water market for 20 years and it is a great pleasure for us to have such a high-quality water at our disposal like the one from Zalaszentgrót", said Zoltán Kolcsár, manager of the Zalaszentgrót plant.

"We have come a long way in the past two decades, building a hydration business, exporting to three countries, making many improvements that have not only contributed to the success of our company but also provide a daily living for the local community."

Coca-Cola HBC Hungary constantly observes consumer habits and preferences and responds to them by renewing its product range from time to time to meet all emerging needs and expectations in the field of hydration.

Besides Naturaqua, the Smartwater brand is also made in Zalaszentgrót, with a unique production technology: the process is similar to the water cycle, the natural mineral water is first transformed into vapour and then the mineral salts are added after condensation.

The Naturaqua Emotion product range is also produced in Zalaszentgrót, with which the company is present in the mineral water-based carbonated soft drinks segment.

The latest innovations include the blueberry-pomegranate flavoured Naturaqua Emotion drink launched this year, and in January 2022, the company introduced Naturaqua natural mineral water for children and adults in 1-liter packaging. This water can be given to babies without boiling and can also be used as a raw material for baby food.

With the innovation, Coca-Cola Hungary, a bottler and brand owner of the Naturaqua brand, entered the baby water segment, which represents a growing strategic part of the natural mineral water market.

The largest employer in the region

The aim of Coca-Cola HBC Hungary is to create stable and reliable workplaces through its investments, helping to increase employment in the region. In the Zalaszentgrót plant, which today provides secure employment for more than 100 people, Coca-Cola HBC Hungary has employed 118 of its own workers over the past 20 years.

Thanks to the very low fluctuation rate and high loyalty to the plant, around a fifth of the current employees have been working there since the plant opened.

Sustainability at the heart of the operation

Sustainability is an integral part of the corporate culture of Coca-Cola HBC Hungary. The plant in Zalaszentgrót - like the one in Dunaharaszti - uses 100% green electricity. The green operation of the Zalaszentgrót plant is also supported by heat pumps, supplying green heat energy to the plant, which is almost entirely carbon neutral.

The geothermal energy generated by the heat pumps and the high temperature of the well water is used, among other things, to heat the water of the neighbouring thermal spa in Zalaszentgrót and the plant buildings, to preheat hot water for social purposes and for technological hot water demand, while the geothermal energy produced by the heat pumps saves the company hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of natural gas per year.

Hungary's largest beverage company is reducing the amount of water used for cleaning, maintenance, and production technology year by year, making a remarkable contribution to the conservation of water resources.

Through a series of successful water reduction measures, it was possible to optimize processes and significantly reduce the amount of rinse water used and later reclaimed.

Coca-Cola HBC Hungary is continuously improving the packaging of its mineral waters and beverages to introduce more sustainable solutions.

Thanks to the innovation of recent years, Coca-Cola's beverage packaging in Hungary, including the products bottled in Zalaszentgrót, is 100% recyclable.

The company has set a goal to reduce the amount of packaging materials used in the bottling of Naturaqua products. The innovation began in 2014 with the introduction of the unique PET Twist twist bottle, an investment of around HUF 200 million.

Over the years, the weight of the bottles has been further reduced and they now have smaller neck sizes and smaller caps: as a result, the weight of 1.5 liter plastic bottles has been reduced from 37.2 grams to 32.95 grams for carbonated products and to 25.50 grams for non-carbonated mineral waters, and the weight of the 0.5 liter PET bottles has been reduced from 16.7 grams to 14.6 and 11.5 grams.

Today, 31 percent less PET raw material is used in the packaging of Naturaqua products than before the project started.

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