Fiji bottled water built a formidable brand as the purveyor of pristine artesian water extracted from its host nation's former volcanoes. And, of course, by cultivating a deeply devoted celebrity clientele. But the company's marketing team may need to find a new angle to peddle the expensive product: Fiji is now shutting down its Fijian facilities.
On Monday, in response to the "untenable" taxes levied by the country's military regime, Fiji Water announced it "had no choice" but to close down its operations in the nation. The company canceled orders from suppliers and put on hold construction contracts in the country—immediately affecting the nearly 4000 villagers who live in and around the water factory. But bottled water devotees can take heart that the move may not be permanent; Fiji would like to have further discussions with the government about the 15-cents-a-liter tax recently imposed on the company.
Last year, a brief backlash to Fiji water began after a Mother Jones investigative report detailed the company's "nearly exclusive" access to the famous aquifer water, business relationship with the oppressive military regime, and "shady" global financial dealings. But if Fiji doesn't end up selling Fijian water, the regime—according to MoJo's Anna Lenzer—has boasted that it will "call for international tenders from credible and reputable private sector companies to extract this valuable resource."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.