Water, the blue gold that billionaires invest in

They call it blue gold. Water, a precious resource with a renewal capacity that is becoming increasingly complicated, is coveted by large companies and billionaires looking for new investments. It has even been traded on the Chicago stock exchange since 2020.

Eva Morletto

By Eva Morletto12 janvier 2023

Icelandic Glacial water is one of the most sought-after waters, thanks to its purity (Shutterstock)


Yearly global consumption of bottled water (Liters)


Average yearly consumption of bottled water per person (Liters)


Record price for a bottle of water: Acqua di Cristallo in honour of Modigliani at auction

The consumption of water on the planet reaches 4 billion m3, or 1.3 million liters of water every second, which is much higher than the reserves’ renewal capacity: a problem closely followed by scientists around the world, who are looking to optimize resources and look for possible methods to preserve this precious good.

In the meantime, the market for bottled water continues to flourish, and the scarcity of resources is significantly driving prices up. In France, the market for bottled water is steadily growing, especially for premium waters. Studies conducted by the Chambre Syndicale des Eaux Minérales show that French consumption corresponds to a little over 130 liters per capita a year, for a total of about 8 billion liters for the entire population.



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The luxury sector has been interested in the spring water market for several years now: commercial initiatives and partnerships are already numerous. Who are the big companies that are investing massively in the bottled water market and with what interests?

The kings of water, between quality and controversy

The global mineral water market is held by agribusiness giants such as Castel, Nestlé or Danone, but also by billionaires such as Stewart and Lynda Resnick - founders of The Wonderful Company which owns Fiji Water, one of the most expensive mineral waters in the world, bought in 2004 for 50 million dollars and whose exploitation is rather controversial.

Fiji Water has privatised water sources, depriving the people of Fiji of essential water resources (Shutterstock)

Multinational water companies are regularly scrutinized by environmental organizations because of their often opaque practices related to the exploitation of sources. While the giant Coca-Cola is accused of draining the water reserves of the Chiapas region in Mexico to produce its popular soda, multinationals that offer premium waters are also developing ambiguous strategies. Fiji Waters has privatized water sources in the Pacific archipelago, depriving the people of Fiji of essential water resources. In a country where bottled water ends up costing more than soda, the health consequences are now more than tangible, with an explosion in obesity rates among the population. On this subject, Wonderful Company, owner of Fiji Waters, is today highly questioned by environmental NGOs. But the multinational is also on the radar of environmental protection organizations in the United States, where it has its headquarters. Indeed, it is also there that it manages the production of tons of Californian almonds (Wonderful Almonds), plantations that are extremely water-hungry and contribute to drought and wildfires in the region.

In Europe, where environmental laws are stricter, several premium mineral water companies have set an example in terms of sustainable commitment, by adhering to charters in favor of environmental protection. This is the case, for example, of the French company Jolival, which was bought in 2014 by Renaud Dutreil, the former minister of small and medium-sized businesses under Jacques Chirac and now head of the Mirabaud Patrimoine Vivant (MPV) fund. In the daily Charente Libre, he said, "I fully measure the potential of a product such as this one, there is a great story to tell, real development prospects." Jolival water became famous for signing a partnership with the Paris Saint Germain soccer team.

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