The businessman who melts icebergs to fill bottles of luxury water

94 euros for melted Arctic ice in a bottle.

To many of us today, icebergs conjure up images of starving polar bears and the impending climate-change apocalypse. But for others, an iceberg is there to be conquered. Or rather, bottled. That’s the point of view taken by Svalbardi, a company that has begun melting bergs off the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard, and selling them at 94 euros a bottle.

Unsurprisingly, this decadent enterprise is not going down well with environmentalists. The idea sprang from the brain of Jamal Qureshi, a Wall Street finance professional. In 2013, Qureshi, whose father is Pakistani and mother Norwegian, took a trip to Svalbard. While he was there he collected melted water as a gift for his wife. ‘I took it home so that my wife could make tea with this water,’ he told the Svalbard Posten.

Photo: Qureshi (Svalbardi) on the left

The archipelago is home to one of the most northerly communities on Earth, with virtually no criminality. It’s inhabited by polar bears, and is also popular with extreme sports tourists.

The only place the bottles can be bought, apart from on the company’s website, is in Harrods, London. Svalbardi intends to make 13,000 750ml-bottles of Svalbardi at a time, twice a year.

The water is almost mineral-free, and it has, its makers say, ‘an exceptionally light mouthfeel’ and a ‘unique terroir, perfect for pairing with fine foods.’

Photo: Svalbardi

Qureshi told the Daily Mail that ‘Svalbardi is sourced from melted icebergs which first fell as snow up to 4,000 years ago. Because the ice has been tightly compacted since before industrial-era pollution circled the world, pollutants have been unable to contaminate the source.’ He does not cite any scientific to back up his claims, however. 

Photo: Svalbard thaw (NASA)

For those who question the sustainability of the project, Qureshi has two answers: firstly, that a percentage of each sale of Svalbardi is donated to the archipelago’s Global Seed Vault – a centre that stores every variety of seed in the world to insure against the loss of crops due to natural disasters caused by global warming.

And secondly, that the company is ‘carbon neutral certified’ and that it ‘only takes icebergs that are already floating in the water and would usually melt in a few weeks, and that can’t be used for hunting (by polar bears). 

However, The Pacific Institute’s Peter Gleick maintains that the long-term production chain required by the company will not be ecologically sustainable and could accelerate small-scale thawing. 


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