A Canadian start-up company bottling fresh air from the Rocky Mountains has seen sales to China soar because of rising pollution levels.
Vitality Air was founded last year and started bottling up air in the western Canadian city of Edmonton as a joke product until it started getting a lot of orders from China less than two months ago and bottles are now literally flying off the shelves faster than the wind blows.
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“Our first shipment of 500 bottles of fresh air were sold in four days,” co-founder Moses Lam has said. A further crate containing 4,000 more bottles is making its way to China, but he says most of that shipment has been bought.
Vitality Air’s biggest challenge is to keep up with demand because each bottle of fresh air is filled by hand.
“It’s very labour intensive but we also wanted to make it a very unique and fun product,” says Mr Lam.
“We may have bitten off more than we can chew.”
A 7.7 Litre can of crisp air taken from Banff National Park in the majestic Rocky Mountains range sells for roughly 100 yuan (£10), which is 50 times more expensive than a bottle of mineral water in China, but the demand is high.
Most of Vitality Air’s customers live in big cities in the northeastern and southern parts of China where severe pollution warnings have become a common occurrence.This comes just over a week after Beijing issued a red alert for pollution that forced half of the cars off the roads.
The Canadian company is not the first to sell fresh air to the Chinese, last year, a Beijing artist Liang Kegang fetched the equivalent of £512 for a glass jar filled with air taken from a business trip in southern France.
Vitality Air’s founder Mr Lam admits that he started the company as a joke when he and co-founder Troy Paquette filled a plastic bag of air and sold it for less than 50 pence on the auction site Ebay. A second bag sold for $160 (£105) and that is when the idea dawned on them.
“That’s when we realised there is a market for this,” says Mr Lam.
Vitality Air now sells bottled fresh air and oxygen across North America, to India and the Middle East. But China remains its biggest overseas market. The company’s China representative, Harrison Wang, says their main customers are affluent Chinese women who buy it as a gift for their families. But he says senior homes and even high end night clubs have also stocked up on their product.
“In China fresh air is a luxury, something so precious,” says Mr Wang.
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A number of distributors have even contacted them to sell their products. The growing orders have been a pleasant surprise for him since his friends and family initially mocked the idea of selling something that most Canadians and the rest of us take for granted.
What do your think about this? Is it just a load of hot air or do you think its a way forward? Share your thought with us below…