Fiji Water was started by a Canadian named David Gilmour in 1996, by his company Natural Waters of Viti Ltd. The company’s headquarters are located in Los Angeles, California.
Fiji Water is bottled water sourced from an artesian aquifer in Viti Levu, one of the major islands of Fiji. These water bottles are available in 330 ml, 500 ml, 1 liter and 1.5 liter bottles that are shipped overseas.
In 2006, Fiji Water had some controversy. They ran an advertisement stating “The label says Fiji because it’s not bottled in Cleveland”. The Cleveland Water Department was insulted and decided to run a comparison test of Fiji’s bottled water to Cleveland’s tap water. The reports concluded that Fiji’s bottled water had 6.31 micrograms of arsenic per liter, Cleveland’s tap water had none.
Even still, Fiji Water claims to be cleaner than all of its competitors, even stating they are Eco-friendly. This is just untrue. Fiji Water is bottled in plastic bottles that were produced by diesel run generators and exported from China. In addition, the thousands of miles these bottles traveled to bottle Fiji Water isn’t what I would call “green” either.
Fiji Water often discusses how charitable the company is, although they never release the exact amount they say they give back to “bettering the lives of Fijians”. I find this quote offensive. Many Fijians do not have access to clean water, yet the aquifer was found in the 90’s. The Natural Waters of Viti Ltd purchased a 99 year lease of the land where the aquifer is located. Many Fijians are suffering from disease (like typhoid) from bacteria, viruses and even parasites within their contaminated drinking water.
Fiji Water has become very popular amongst celebrities, which increases its marketing reach to the rest of us. Fiji exported 130 million liters of their water last year. Tourism interest has also increased due to the amount of marketing exposure the water of Fiji is experiencing.
Unfortunately the Fiji government will not stop the exportation of its water. The government receives taxes per liter of its exported water. In 2010, the government proposed a tax levy increase rate, per liter. Raising from 1/3 of a cent to 15 cents per liter, equaling F500,000 to F22.6 million ($231,397 USD to $10,644,254 USD).
The Fiji Water company considered moving to a new water source in New Zealand but the Fiji government threatened to lease the well to a competing company. Fiji Water accepted the new tax levy and continued to collect and export Fiji’s water.
A bottle of Fiji Water may cost us $4 but the Fijians are paying a much greater price with their health. An island that boasts about its remote location, is only making it painfully evident how important the islands aquifer is, as a priceless life source of healthy water for the Fijians.