If you would like to drink a bottle of some pure melted iceberg water, you need not go to the Himalayas or to the Arctic region. If you happen to be in London, you can just stop by Harrods. The iconic luxury department store, located in the British capital and which continues to astonish and intrigue customers from around the world with first-class service, retail theatre and product quality, is now bringing ‘iceberg water’ from one of the world’s most uninhabited areas—the Arctic Ocean. The product will come in 750ml bottles and retail at an eye-watering £80. The water will be available in the Harrods’ Food Hall, the retailer was quoted as saying by media reports.
Apparently, it’s not just any old water. The brand’s founder, Norwegian-American businessman Jamal Qureshi, said he founded the brand after collecting melted water from the Norwegian territory of Svalbard in 2013 as a gift for his wife. He then, it seems, decided to bring this water to more people. Astonishingly, the governor of Svalbard has approved Qureshi’s venture. He charters an icebreaker to make two expeditions a year, in the summer and the autumn when icebergs calve away from glaciers that run into the sea. One-tonne pieces of ice are carved from these floating bergs at a time. Using a crane and a net, they are lifted on to the boat and taken to Longyearbyen to be melted down into bottles of “polar iceberg water”, which has “the taste of snow in air”. On each expedition, Qureshi plans to harvest 15 tonnes of ice to produce 13,000 bottles.
The environmental sustainability of the venture is the first concern of many people, Qureshi told the Guardian. “But we’re carbon neutral certified, and we’re supporting renewable energy projects in East Africa and China,” he was quoted as saying. “We also only take icebergs that are already floating in the water and would usually melt in a few weeks, and that can’t be used for hunting (by polar bears),” he adds.
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However, Qureshi’s venture is not the first of its kind. Tibet’s provincial government has already approved licences for dozens of companies to tap Himalayan glaciers for ‘premium’ bottled drinking water. The government has reportedly encouraged the project with a 10-year plan to help grow the bottled water industry. The long-term ambition is to be producing 10 m cubic metres of bottled water by 2025, although production at the beginning of 2015 was reportedly just 153,000 cubic metres, as per reports.
In an effort to boost growth, the provincial government in Tibet had approved licenses for 28 companies to produce bottled water by the end of 2014. Bottled water activities are also growing rapidly in neighbouring Xinjiang, Qinghai and Yunnan provinces, with companies even bottling water straight from the tongues of rapidly melting glaciers. The Everest range is also fair game. One company, Qomolangma Glacier Water, bottles water from a national reserve 80 km from the Everest base camp, as per reports.