Fiji Water renews its relationship with a local dictator

Guy Adams

fiji water 506403t Fiji Water renews its relationship with a  local dictator

The makers of Fiji Water appear to have about as many principles as the air-headed celebrities who quaff their overpriced bottles of H2O.

Only yesterday, the firm announced that it was closing down operations in the South Pacific island nation that bears its product’s name after the ruling military junta announced a major new tax on firms which extract mineral water there. “The country is increasingly unstable and a very risky place in which to invest,” said the company, in a statement.

The move would have meant the end of Fiji Water, since its entire brand is based on the (dubious) claim that a unique underground aquifier on one of the islands allows water to be bottled before it has come into contact with air – allegedly making it uniquely pure, healthy, and free from pollution.

Today, however, a remarkable volte face: after meeting with Fiji’s dictator Frank Bainimarama, the firm’s lawyers announced that they had suddenly agreed to “comply” with the tax, of roughly eight pence per litre of water, and would be re-employing their 400-strong workforce. They did not explain the decision.

The water company is owned by the LA-based billionaires Lynda and Stewart Resnick (pictured above left), who are both hugely well-connected donors to the Democratic Party. It has a history of eccentric behaviour. For years its marketeers have tried, with some success, to convinve the public that its product, shipped halfway around the world in plastic bottles is somehow good for the environment. They have also managed, in certain countries, to trademark the word: “FIJI”

If you’re interested in a critique of Fiji Water’s modus operandi, colourful corporate structure, and the ugly fact that (while it churns out its trendy product) many Fijians are unable to access clean supplies of H20 and therefore suffer from Typhoid, read this excellent Independent Sunday Review investigation byAnna Lenzer, published last year. She also has a blog, which frequently carries items about the firm, here.

If you’re not, then before you pony up £5 for a bottle of Fiji Water, at least try to consider the following: thanks to this new tax, Western consumers of this unnecessary product are now contributing money indirectly into the pockets of one of the planet’s ugliest dictators. Mull over that, next time you’re quenching your thirst.

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  • John Reuter

    Always thought it was weird to buy water from so far away, when water is so heavy to ship. Now I know it’s blood water.

  • Greedwatch

    Guy Adams, one of the planet’s ugliest dictators? Which planet are you from? In 2006, Fiji’s Frank Bainimarama seized power from a civilian leader he’d appointed after a previous coup in 2000 because that leader had progressively introduced a series of racist policies that marginalised 40 per cent of the population. He’s pledged to return Fiji to democracy in 2014 after completing a series of badly needed reforms. Bainimarama has killed nobody, introduced policies to assist the poor and has not enriched himself at the expense of his countrymen. He’s now succeeded in getting Fiji Water to finally pay a fairer share of a precious natural resource. Ugly dictator? Not half as ugly as a journalist who takes no account of the facts.

  • property lady

    I agree completely, this is an “unnecessary product”, so why is it even in the news? What happened to the royal wedding, I thought that was going to overshadow all other stories?

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