As you may be aware, Mavea, the water filtration company, has exited the North American market. Those of us who owned their quality water pitchers are soon to be without the ability to find replacement filters – more on that in a moment.
According to company history, accurately documented on Wikipedia, BRITA started in 1966 when Heinz Hankammer had the idea of optimizing normal tap water. He named the company after his daughter Brita. Its headquarters are in Taunusstein near Wiesbaden in Germany.
In 1988, The Clorox Company, based in Oakland, California, entered in a licensing-and-distribution agreement with the German company for North and South America. Then in the year 2000, Clorox acquired the sole rights to the brand in North America and BRITA agreed to a non-compete clause until 2005. Subsequently beginning in 2008, BRITA returned to the North American market under the brand Mavea.
The key to Mavea/Brita’s success is the Maxtra filter which maximizes the water flow over the carbon and ion exchange resins, more effectively than the competition. The company also used the highest standards for carbon element sourcing and has an unmatched no-cost filter recycling program.
As recently as 2016, Mavea was still improving the filtering technology with the innovative compostable MicroDisc carbon filters. This development seemed to be in answer to the lack of interest by consumers in taking advantage of the totally free filter return process.
At the end of 2016, word came that Mavea was leaving North America and fans began to search for answers. Calls to the toll free number are answered by agents with Canadian and French Canadian accents, who advise callers that the filters would be available at retail outlets until supplies were exhausted. The first filters to become unavailable were the newest Microdisc products.
No explanation was available from the service members as to why Mavea/Brita Germany was exiting the North American market. Emails to Brita Germany seeking more details have, as of this writing, gone unanswered.
Kitchenboy has a couple of thoughts regarding potential problems with sales. While the pitcher is made of high quality plastic and silicone with a stylish, refrigerator friendly shape, the price was on the higher side. The larger problem may have been in their dealings with retailers.
While searching for a local outlet to purchase replacement filters, I learned that Mavea limited retailers ability to sell the filters. Unless the retailer could guarantee a certain level of pitcher sales, they would not be allowed to sell the filters. For a retailer, the repeat business from replacement filter sales is the more profitable portion of home water filtration. If they can’t sell the filters, then the motivation to sell pitchers is limited.
Restrictions of this sort are not unusual, Alessi, the high end Italian housewares company, also uses such arrangements. By placing restrictions on the retailers, Mavea was limiting the consumer’s options to larger outlets such as Bed, Bath & Beyond and online sellers like Amazon.
Without clarification from Brita Germany, we won’t know what challenges forced them to drop from the lucrative North American market.
Mavea Owner Remedy
If like me, you own a Mavea water pitcher, you are now or soon will find the replacement Maxtra filters difficult to purchase. As of this writing, Amazon still seems to have them in plentiful supply.
After some research, Kitchenboy has found a Maxtra size filter that will work in the standard Mavea pitcher. I didn’t put much effort into looking for possible alternatives for the MicroDisc products.
One water filter that fits standard Mavea pitchers is made by Lake Industries in the United States. The filters are available on Amazon for a decent price, four filters for $34.95, and are Prime eligible.
An email exchange with a Lake Industries representative revealed they have been in business since 1979, and seem unlikely to go out of business any time soon. There is one difference between Lake and Mavea: Lake Industries filters, in addition to removing toxins, also alkalize the water using dissolving minerals.
Their filter utilizes a seven stage cartridge consisting of ION EXCHANGE RESIN, TOURMALINE, MINERAL BALLS, and CARBON. These combine to remove chlorine, odors, heavy metals, plus 90% of all zinc, copper, lead and pollutants.
This is important information to know if you use a Total Dissolved Solids meter to check filter results. The alkalized water won’t register significantly lower marks using such a device. The company recommends pH and OTO tests, the latter for Chlorine, to determine the filter’s effectiveness.
I am not sold on the alleged health benefits of alkaline water, but since using the Lake Industries filters, I find the water does taste good, better than Mavea even, possibly due to the higher, softer pH levels.
Personal frustration aside, this abrupt exit seems inconsistent with Mavea’s focus on environmental responsibility. Many consumers will toss the pitchers, which will likely end up in a landfill rather than a recycling center.
Wouldn’t the more responsible ecological action have been to remedy sales problems, rather than contribute to landfill waste?