Panama, Exporting A Natural Resource: Water

Bottled water has long been a valued commodity in the international market. Both giants of the beverage industry, Pepsi and Coca Cola own water bottling plants and have their own bottled water brands.  Panama has recently entered the bottled water market at an international level. When speaking about bottled water it is important to understand that sometimes the water is just that, tap water that has been bottled however there are other waters which actually do come from natural springs, artesian wells or aquifers which provide the consumer with a natural water source.  These fall under the category of mineral water. In Panama there are over 125 sources of natural spring water.

In 2007 the Panamanian company Panama Springs launched the Panamian brand Panama Blue.  It is water from an natural spring 220 feet underground which is bottled at the source after having been naturally filtered through several layers of volcanic rock.  Panama Blue is extracted from Cerro Azul in Pacora and its bottling plant has ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certification.  The last reported capacity of Panama Springs bottling plant was 1,200 boxes per week of 500 mililiter bottles.  Panama Blue is exported in small quantities to the United States and to some extent to Central America.

With an investment of $48 million the company Eurofusion follows the footsteps of Panama Springs and launches bottled mineral water from an underground aquifer.  The company Eurofusion has a mixed capital from the United States and Canada and after seven years of looking for a place to set up their bottling plant based on the qualities of the natural water they chose Panama.  Specifically the region of Valdeza in the district of Capira in the Province of Panama.

The water coming from this underground aquifer includes calcium, silica and fluoride.  The characteristics of the water will allow it to compete with brands such as Volvic and Fidji, which are currently two of the best bottled waters worldwide.  The water Eurofusion will be bottling has been stored in this  natural, underground reservoir for hundreds or maybe thousands of years and as such requires minimal treatment to guarantee its purity.

Basically the water is extracted from the underground aquifer through stainless steel pipes into storage containers where it is subjected to ultraviolet light to purify it, it is tested and then the iron and manganese are eliminated and ozone added to eliminate the odor and taste that comes from being underground.  Finally it is bottled.   Acquifer water is very pure and can remain basically in its natural state for bottling because it does not have any contact with the surface so its microbiological indexes are very low while water coming from spring above ground does have a much higher microbiological content and must be treated more before bottling.

The bottling facility is fully automated and the only human interaction is in closing the bottle cap.  AQUACAI is the name of this new water and Eurofusion hopes to be able to market it in 46 countries once the brand is registered.  In Panama it will be available at the end of January.

For more information on Panama:  PanamaQmagazine

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