Chinese stores flout ban on selling bottled ‘glacier water’, says report

Nectar Gan, South China Morning Post | January 22, 2016

Supermarkets and convenience stores in southern China still stock glacier water on their shelves, despite a ban on using the term in packaging, according to a newspaper report.

Bottled water sold in China can no longer be labelled “glacier water”, “distilled water” or “oxygen enriched water” starting from this year, the New Express Daily reported.

All packaged drinking water, other than mineral water, has to be called “purified drinking water” or “other drinking water” under the regulations.

Archive picture of water labelled as sourced from Tibetan glaciers. Photo: SCMP Pictures
Archive picture of water labelled as sourced from Tibetan glaciers. Photo: SCMP Pictures

However, “glacier water” can still be found on the market three weeks after the ban came into force, the newspaper said.

A 500 ml bottle of “glacier mineral water” was on sale at a large-chain supermarket in Guangzhou for 12 yuan (HK$14.20), five times more expensive than a similar sized bottle of “purified drinking water” next to it, the newspaper reported.

Zhu Danpeng, a researcher at the China Brand Research Institute, was quoted as saying that glacier water was transported from Tibet and the logistics costs were high, but the concept of its purity also boosted the price.

The snow-capped peaks of the Tibetan plateau are branded as a source of pure water and many consumers are willing to pay a premium due to growing concerns about water pollution in China.

Tibet’s government announced a 10-year-plan to encourage the massive expansion of the bottled water industry in the ecologically-fragile region in 2015.

The move has drawn concerns about the environmental impact on the water security of the wider region.

Glaciers in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which is among the places most vulnerable to climate change, have shrunk 15 per cent over the past three decades, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *