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Consumers

HK$950 bottled water made from polar glaciers, pulled from Hong Kong shelves

Great Food Hall spokesman said supermarket is reviewing the 750ml bottle, said to be sourced from ‘purest icebergs’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 September, 2017, 8:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 September, 2017, 2:04pm

Bottles of water made from polar glaciers and selling for a cool HK$950 each have been pulled from the shelves of a high-end supermarket in Hong Kong, after an icy reaction online.

Last week, Great Food Hall in Pacific Place in Admiralty copped criticism for stocking Svalbardi, a 750ml bottle of water which the company claims was sourced from the “purest icebergs”.

It was about 19 times more expensive than a similar-sized S Pellegrino, the next most costly water in stock.

The Svalbardi display was nowhere to be seen on Monday when the Post visited the supermarket and a store spokesman said the pricey drink had been pulled.

“Great Food Hall respects the comments of our customers and has currently taken the Svalbardi polar iceberg water off shelf for review,” the spokesman said.

“We just started selling the product very recently. It was for a short period of time.”

The spokesman was unable to give information on how many bottles had been sold, a specific time period that they were on the shelves, or whether the product would be back on the shelves again.

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But there were still plenty of other products catering for those with expensive, international tastes, including a pack of two Japanese peaches for HK$228, and Japanese muscat grapes for HK$798 a pack.

The product drew a frosty response from online commentators, with one posting on Facebook: “That’s totally environmentally unfriendly! And stupid!”

Another said: “Sad reality is that someone who thinks it’s cool to have this on their dining table will buy it. If there was no market for it, it wouldn’t be on sale!”

The product was the subject of a negative opinion piece in British newspaper The Guardian earlier this year, with the author criticising the company for the “sheer insensitivity of exploiting one of the world’s last wildernesses”.

But Svalbardi, which was founded by Norwegian-American Jamal Qureshi, claims it is environmentally friendly and aims to mitigate the impact of global warming.

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According to Svalbardi’s website it “seeks out the purest icebergs” near the North Pole, gently melts the ice, then bottles it by hand.

Only 13,000 bottles are made from each expedition meaning each batch is “limited edition”.

“I know few will ever be able to visit, but with Svalbardi people can taste the best drinking water from the ice at the top of the world,” Qureshi is quoted as saying on the site.

Svalbardi did not respond to a request for comment, and an attempt to reach the Hong Kong distributor of the brand was unsuccessful.

It’s not the first pricey food item to hit shelves in the city. Earlier this year, City’super chain came under fire over its individually packaged Japanese strawberries which sold at HK$168 each.