Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Don't Drink Beijing Tap Water, Water from the Cooler Filled With Beijing Tap Water; Drink Beer?

I can still remember the economics classes where free goods were to include water. This is certainly not the case in China any longer. Joel Martinsen of Danwei en Jia Fenyong reported already July 4, here, that drinkable water from the tab in Beijing is only possible in some limited areas. The problem is that the water comes drinkable from the water processing plant but is getting contaminated on its way to the end-user.

So enter the market opportunities for water bottlers and water coolers providers. However, a report in the Beijing Times (Chinese) on July 9, showed that more than half of all these water coolers are fake and not so refreshing as they might seem. Associated Press wrote an article about fake drinking water in Beijing:

"The water is either tap water or purified water from small suppliers put into the water jugs and sealed with bogus quality standard marks", writes the Associated Press quoting the report in the Beijing Times.

Water bottlers and authorities marginalise the scale of this counterfeit problem. An employee of Wahaha, one of the water bottlers, whose products are counterfeited was quoted saying: "We have found very few fake Wahaha products." And Wu Jianping of the Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine was quoted saying at a news conference: "Problems found with some individual cases cannot be interpreted to mean that the entire water industry has problems".
Read the Associated Press article here.
Even if one cannot say all bottled water is fake, even if only a small part is counterfeited, it will destroy the trust in the whole product category. Because in China there is no alternative for bottled water, since tap water is undrinkable, this does affect the entire water industry. In the Middle Ages people in Europe could not drink water without getting sick, so they sticked to beer. Is China going to make a transition from water to beer?

Mr Brady Groscost, "a soft-IP-infatuated 3rd-year law student" at the Seattle University, pointed me to the Associated Press article. Thanks a lot.

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