Canadian Company Sells Bottles Of Fresh Air To China; Sells Out In Four Days
Yes, you read the headline correctly.
What started as a joke has seen the product – bottles of fresh air – selling out in pollution-hit China in four days.
A Canadian start-up company, Vitality Air is bottling fresh air taken from the Rocky Mountains and then selling it to China. Sales have soared because of rising pollution levels.
“Our first shipment of 500 bottles of fresh air were sold in four days,” co-founder Moses Lam says in a telephone interview with the Telegraph.
A 7.7 Litre can of crisp air taken from Banff National Park in the majestic Rocky Mountains range sells for roughly 100 yuan (S$22), which is 50 times more expensive than a bottle of mineral water in China.
The customers are mainly those that live in big cities in the northeastern and southern parts of China where pollution warnings have become a common occurrence.
The company’s China representative, Harrison Wang, says their customers are mainly affluent Chinese women who buy for their families or give away as gifts. But he says the old folks’ 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.
This comes just over a week after Beijing issued a red alert for pollution that forced half of the cars off the roads.
Believe it or not, the Canadian company, however, is not the first to sell fresh air to the Chinese.
Last year, Beijing artist Liang Kegang fetched the equivalent of S$1,005 for a glass jar filled with air taken from a business trip in southern France.
In 2013, multimillionaire Chen Guangbiao sold pop-sized cans of air purportedly taken from less industrialised regions of China for 5 yuan (S$1) each.
Vitality Air’s Mr Lam admits that he started out the company as a joke as well when he and co-founder Troy Paquette filled a plastic bag of air and sold it for less than S$1 on the auction site Ebay.
A second bag sold for S$220.
“That’s when we realised there is a market for this,” says Mr Lam.
Vitality Air’s customers include urban dwellers in North America, India and the Middle East. But China remains its biggest overseas market.
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 co-founder Mr Lam.
“My parents told me not to quit my day time job,” he says.
So far, Mr Lam has heeded this advice and still holds a bank job in Canada.