Fiji Water Might No Longer Come From Fiji

For years, Fiji Water has been touting the virtues of the water it pulls — “untouched by man” — from artesian wells in the island nation from which the company takes its name. But now the Fiji Water folks might be in over their head. They claim the Fijian government is trying to squeeze them dry with exorbitant taxes and have no other option but to pick up their operation and move elsewhere.

According to the company, they are currently only paying around 1/3 of one Fijian cent per liter in taxes to the country. But the government wants to jack that up to 15 Fijian cents per liter (around $.08/liter).

The company is laying off around 400 employees and canceling construction projects in the wake of this development.

Says the Fiji Water President John Cochran:

[The tax increase is] a clear and unmistakable message to businesses operating in Fiji or looking to invest there: The country is increasingly unstable, and is becoming a very risky place in which to invest.

While Fiji Water say it has paid millions to the Fijian government, the country’s interim prime minister says it has paid less than $600,000 in taxes to Fiji:

If Fiji Water is no longer interested in Fiji, then the Fijian government, following cancellation of the leases, will call for international tenders from credible and reputable private-sector companies to extract this valuable resource.

A similar standoff between Fiji the water company and Fiji the government occurred in 2008, with Fiji Water closing down a plant in response to the government’s proposed $.20/liter tax.

The company declined to comment to the L.A. Times about what it would do if it shut down its Fiji operation. Fiji Water is owned by the same billionaire couple, Stewart and Lynda Resnick, that own POM Wonderful.

Fiji Water to stop operating in Fiji [Chicago Tribune]

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  1. Platypi {Redacted} says:

    Move it to Japan and call it Mt. Fuji water!

  2. obits3 says:

    First they came for my Fiji water, and I was like “I don’t live in Fiji”

  3. danmac says:

    Does anyone else find it ironic that a bottled water company finds paying $.08/liter for something that is essentially free to be exhorbitant?

    • crazedhare says:

      I find it MORE ironic that approximately half of the not-quite one million inhabitants of the Fijan islands live in abject poverty without clean water, while some company owned by a couple of American billionaires extract water from their land and sell it for exorbitant prices.

      • Beeker26 says:

        +1 and +1

        • vastrightwing says:

          .. and holding a gun to everyone in the store to buy their over priced water!

          • mythago says:

            Oh dear. I think you missed the point. It’s a couple miles back, turn left at the old gas station. You can’t miss it.

            • drizzt380 says:

              No I’ve read a discussion about this.

              A persons responsibility to another person is directly linked to their proximity. If this company is in Fiji bringing bottling plants, jobs, and taxes it should feel bad for not helping out its fellow man.

              However, if this company was in Japan no one would care that they aren’t helping people in Fiji.

              I’m not exactly sure what you expect a company to be able to do to improve the conditions of a country that is pretty much living under a military dictatorship.

      • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

        I read the comments in the hopes that I wouldn’t have to be the one to bring this up. Thank you!

      • Thalia says:

        I find it more depressing that these payments from the American billionaires is going to prop up a military dictatorship. Don’t buy Fiji water. Fiji has been kicked out of the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth of Nations for refusing to hold elections.

      • Peacock (Now In Extra Crispy) says:

        Not only this, but American billionaires who are thoroughly reprehensible human beings (and barely human at that). They hide their grossness with philanthropy, but they’re truly evil.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I make my own filtered water at home. For real-sies this time.

  5. Jfielder says:

    I can understand the gov’t wanting to raise taxes on a foreign company that’s there to exploit their natural resources and turn huge profits from them…. but a 4500% tax increase is a little insane…

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Given the legality of the government has come under scrutiny as recently as 2009, and has been shifting since 1987, I am not at all surprised by any sudden shift in policy.

      It’s akin to the troubles in North Korea. As government unrest and uncertainty emerge, irrational and/or unpredictable behavior begin.

    • lchen says:

      And 1/6¢ wasn’t insane?

  6. rekoil says:

    10 bucks says that even if they start using city tap water, they’ll still keep the Fiji brand name…

  7. Megalomania says:

    So a liter bottle of Fiji water would cost 15 cents more to the consumer (who clearly WANT to waste money anyway)? I can understand fighting the precedent, but really, they can afford it.

  8. Hoss says:

    No problem, Poland Spring ain’t from Poland (or a spring)

    • marillion says:

      Actually it does.. On both counts… Been there…

    • KeithIrwin says:

      Some (although not all at this point due to demand) of their water is from springs in Poland, Maine. The rest of it comes from other springs in nearby parts of Maine.

  9. TooManyHobbies says:

    Given that transporting drinking water halfway around the world is about the stupidest thing ever, and is horrible environmentally, I would applaud it if they started bottling water locally.

  10. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    I didn’t realize it even came from Fiji. It seems crazy to import something from so far away when it’s exactly the same as something that comes out of the tap for pennies a gallon.

  11. The cake is a lie! says:

    It is the fault of the Fiji government for letting Billionaire investors come in and rape their country of resources. It was the same thing when Americans were bitching that the Japanese were buying up all our companies and all our business was being outsourced. Well, if we didn’t want it that way then WE SHOULDN’T HAVE SOLD THE COMPANIES TO FOREIGNERS!!! (pinky anchor of rage)

    Even if the water company only paid $600,000 to the government, that is more money than they made just sitting on the water. It isn’t like they have the resources to be able to get the water out themselves, so they might as well profit while they can.

    Of course, what is a 4000% tax increase to one company might be a fair entry point to the next company they lease the land to. I’m sure they will continue to let people pull water out of their country and make money off it while their people starve and die. That is what Fiji does.

    • Thalia says:

      Actually, it’s mostly because the military dictatorship that runs Fiji wants to make more money. Fuck the environment, and the citizens of Fiji that live in poverty. More money for Swiss bank accounts!

  12. Scuba Steve says:

    They can stick what ever water they want in it, 99% of their sales will still be from people mistakenly opening the bottle in the hotel room.

  13. Brendon says:

    How has no one posted the link to that Mother Jones article yet?

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/fiji-spin-bottle

    Fiji Water is evil.

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      Thank you for that link. As if bottled water weren’t bad enough, shipping it in from the other side of the planet and supporting a corrupt government so the well heeled can suck the life giving water from the inhabitants of this country…
      Fiji:
      Inexcusable.

    • MsFab says:

      I was just about to post that. An absolutely eye-opening article.

      In general, I find the entire bottled water industry completely stupid. I work in filter technology, and we still filtration technology to Coke & Pepsi, who just turn around & filter regular old tap water. Why people pay for it, I will never understand.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        “Why people pay for it, I will never understand.”

        I rarely buy bottled water but there are occasional circumstances where I don’t have a container and/or a faucet is unavailable.

  14. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    I am more than willing to sell them water extraction rights to the tap on the side of my house. I will even let them use the hose currently attached thereon.

    Come on we all know that bottled water is a scam making you pay a relative fortune for a product that you can get out of a tap for a fraction of a cent.

  15. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    by the way, when I was in Fiji in ’91 I think I pee’d about a kilometer uphill of their extraction site. Maybe, you should avoid the Fiji water this year.

    Just kidding, I was downhill of the site.

    Fiji is beautiful and in desperate need of outside sources of revenue making it sad to see this happening. But, from an environment stand point, water from anywhere not close by is NUTS.

    • Thalia says:

      Unfortunately the revenue from these sales is not going to the Fijians, it’s going to their corrupt military dictatorship. If it went to the locals, I would actually support a tax increase to move at least a reasonable percentage of those in poverty into a better place.

  16. kingofmars says:

    I think Fiji water claimed that their water was better because the water molecules were “smaller” than other water(s). It was the most redicculous claim I’ve ever seen on a product.

  17. Kishi says:

    Talk about first world problems…

  18. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    I have a dream of them having a farm on Fiji and opening a chain of hot dog and doughnut diners… I’ve even designed special hats. Is there any place to get a good chicken vindaloo on Fiji?

  19. econobiker says:

    Stewart and Lynda Resnick also own The Franklin Mint.

  20. mythago says:

    I have no idea who (if anyone) is telling the truth here, but I’m happy this particular couple won’t be making money off Fiji.

    http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm202785.htm

    http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/2010/09/ftc-slaps-pom-wonderful-with-deceptive-advertising-suit.html

    • haggis for the soul says:

      Wait, so PomWonderful won’t cure unusual, sore and uncomfortable mystery body lumps? Whodathunkit.

  21. Darkneuro says:

    I have no problem with the gov in Fiji charging them taxes. The history of the company is really quite heinous.

  22. SG-Cleve says:

    In 2008 Fiji water ran an ad campaign that said: “The Label Says Fiji Because It’s Not Bottled in Cleveland.”

    Cleveland had their city water tested and compared to Fiji water, and it turned out that Fiji had 6.3 micrograms of arsenic per liter, while Cleveland tap water had none.

    Oops.

    if they can’t get their water from Fiji, maybe they should get it from Cleveland. (Cleveland has abundant water from Lake Erie.)

  23. MarvinMar says:

    Update * DECEMBER 1, 2010

    On Tuesday, Fiji Water lawyers Craig Cooper and Marigold Moody met with Fiji government officials, including Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, seeking to resolve the dispute. After the meetings, Fiji Water agreed to accept the tax increase and reopened the plant Wednesday at 8 a.m. local time.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704679204575647062823813710.html?mod=googlenews_wsj