Water bottlers tap thirst for better health

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 July, 2004, 12:00am

A mineral product that harnesses nanotechnology to improve absorption is among a range of new launches crowding supermarket shelves

Producers of packaged water are stepping up efforts to tap the aqua market in a climate of increased health consciousness and in response to the general thirst for clean drinking water.

A stroll through the supermarkets will reveal an impressive range of bottled waters on sale.

Nano water is a newcomer to the market.

Nanotechnology Ltd officially entered the retail market earlier this year with the soft launch of 18- and 9.5-litre carboy packages.

Nano water is actually mineral water, says the manufacturer.

'The use of nanotechnology in the production process minimises the size of the molecule clusters in the water, so the water can pass more efficiently through the human cell membrane,' said the company chairman and chief executive officer Francis Wong Wai-kuen.

'Besides, the pH value of the water is slightly alkaline, which is close to that of human blood. And the water contains natural minerals to enhance body health,' he said.

Nanotechnology Ltd is optimistic about its nano business, despite strong competition from other distilled and mineral water producers.

'We see much room for expansion in domestic consumption - 95 per cent of local households have still not started consuming carboy package water.

'With Hong Kong people caring more about their health, especially after Sars, we believe nano water has an edge to take a substantial amount of market share.

'Distilled water and mineral water are competitors, while soft drinks are only substitute aqua products. We do not see them as direct rivals.'

Jackel Porter, a major distilled water bottler in Hong Kong, is also stepping up its production and marketing forces in a bid to gain a stronger market foothold.

With the completion of a new factory and new product launches later this year, the company expects the demand for its Aqua-Tek bottled distilled water to increase by 20 per cent next year.

'Our new $40 million factory will increase our floor space from 20,000 square feet to 40,000 sqft,' said company spokesman Dickie Ho. 'We will also bring in new distillation technology, which will give us even better control over quality and hygiene while saving energy.'

Already a market leader and a pioneer in quality water supply in Hong Kong, Jackel Porter claims its distilled water accounts for 35 per cent of market consumption. The banking sector is its major client.

The company was the first distilled water manufacturer in Hong Kong to receive the then ISO9002 (now ISO9001:2000) quality certificate.

'The water is processed in a hygienic and enclosed environment, using state-of-the-art distillation equipment from the United States,' Mr Ho said.

'Our bottled distilled water is also certified by the National Safety Foundation International, proving that it meets the Food and Drug Administration requirements in the US.'

He said the pH value was an indicator of the water's acidity or alkalinity, while being an element in the taste of the water.

'Our distilled water maintains a pH value of 5, which means neutral, and is an ideal water base for making all kinds of refreshments,' Mr Ho said. Because of the water's purity, it was easily absorbed into the body and facilitated the flow of cellular waste products from the cells to the kidneys, thus helping the body efficiently to discharge toxins and wastes, he said.

Mr Ho said Jackel Porter had not introduced artificial mineral water because inorganic minerals were difficult to absorb and might even be rejected by cellular tissue. 'Like preservatives and colouring agents, artificial mineral water with chemical additives is a health hazard. Long periods of consumption of artificial mineral water can result in accumulated minerals in the body, which cause kidney diseases.'

Capitalising on its strength in the distilled water and water-cooler market, the company is introducing the mobile refreshment centre, a convenient device that combines the Aqua-Tek water dispenser and the Cafe-Bar into one compact and elegant design.

'Equipped with a handle and four castors, this mobile model is purpose-built to fit in every corner of the office,' Mr Ho said.

The mobile pantry provides greater flexibility for office staff to enjoy an assortment of refreshing hot drinks at work.

'The machine has been widely accepted since its launch three years ago,' he said. 'We have recorded a 30 per cent growth in sales since March this year.'