Americans love their bottled water—with drinking consumption reaching new highs—even topping the almighty soda as the best-selling drink for the first time last year.
But do they love it enough to pony up $100? One Norwegian-based start-up thinks its new bottle of iceberg water—straight from the remote fjords of Norway—will set a luxury trend as they tap into the $14.2 billion U.S. water market, as estimated by Beverage Marketing Corporation.
“It's iceberg water meaning we actually go out into the fjords, near the North Pole, just 800 miles away and we pick out icebergs that would otherwise be melting and we take them back, melt them and sell it,” Jamal Qureshi, founder of Svalbardi, tells FOX Business.
Qureshi, a former Wall Street oil analyst and native Norwegian, says while the price tag is “obviously pretty eye watering for most people,” he thinks it will catch on in the world of the ultra-high net worth because of the level of exclusivity—and purity.
“It’s extremely pure right off the bat. It has no pollutants or contaminants whatsoever naturally. So, we don’t have to do anything to touch the chemistry of the water,” he adds. “It also has an incredibly light taste, that is why we call our tag line, 'the taste of snow and air.'”
The product—which already sells online—has also been picked up by London’s luxury department store Harrods, and Qureshi hopes to expand to other markets including the U.S. this year.
“We are small in volume but have a high-margin product. I’d like to see this in many markets around the world but again in the sense of a special gift. For weddings or for a gift at the holidays,” he adds, saying he can only produce 13,000 bottles at a time.
However, Qureshi says he knows that his business concept comes with some backlash; critics say disrupting the world’s most sacred glaciers for profit is in bad taste.
“I understand the first reaction but the environmental aspect is very important to us. The first thing we did is make sure there is no harm, so we are carbon neutral certified,” he says.
“We are also very, very careful to only gather icebergs sustainably. So, these are icebergs that would be melting in weeks anyways. This is a natural product that doesn’t take anything away from nature and we try to educate people through our social media of the importance of Svalbard, it’s an incredibly important location for global warming research and has been for over 100 years with its climate records.”
Mark Serreze, the director of National Snow and Ice Data Center and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environment Sciences, tells FOX Business that while he think harvesting icebergs is “hardly an efficient way of getting drinking water,” he does think it’s a “great marketing idea.”