Safety Concerns Make Water Business Boom

BY BEN ARNOLD O. DE VERA REPORTER, The Manila Times

Saturday, January 15 2011

An increasing awareness of the need for safe water is driving up sales of water retailers, an executive of a leading water-franchise company said.During an exclusive roundtable with reporters and editors of The Manila Times on Friday, Carson Tan, the president and chief executive officer of Global Quality Waters and Environmental Solutions Technologies Inc. (GQWEST), noted that the water business in the country is growing as evidenced by the sprouting of a number of water-refilling stations nationwide.
At present, there are 20,000 water-refilling stations all over the Philippines, Tan said.

“You can’t go wrong with water, it’s a basic necessity,” he added.

Lack of access to clean water, however, remains a problem, Tan said.

“In a tropical country like ours, water is plentiful . . . [But] according to a study, 58 percent of our water are contaminated,” according to Tan, also the president of the Water Quality Association of the Philippines Inc.

He said that it is a welcome development that more and more Filipinos are becoming aware of the benefits of drinking and using safe, clean water.

“Right now, Filipinos have a high awareness of safe drinking water because they don’t want to get sick,” Tan pointed out.

But, he said, awareness does not necessarily translate to affordability of clean water, hence, GQWEST is serving the middle- and lower-class populations.

Its flagship brand Aquabest serves customers from the B and C classes, Aquaquest is for the C and D markets and Aquaspree, for those from the D and E classes.

“Our biggest market is the ‘masa,’ [masses] but they can only afford [to buy] so much,” Tan said.

According to him, the company exclusively uses an expensive reverse osmosis technology called “grander technology” to make sure that its purified water products have the best quality.

Water molecules are compressed by equipment using grander technology imported from Austria, resulting in water that is better absorbed by the body, Tan said.

“We at Aquabest aim for higher customer satisfaction, that’s why we’re adding value, something more in water to benefit the health of our customers. We invest in research and development and technology to improve our products,” he added.

Tan sees a further growing water market in the country because of rising consumption and a sizable rural population yet to be reached by water retailers.

“There are many unserved markets, about 12 million Filipinos in rural areas still don’t have access to clean water, so their water sources are still very crude, like deep wells,” he said.

Besides supplying households, GQWEST is slowly entering the bottled-water market, as Aquabest in
350-milliliter and 500-ml containers are now being sold in some convenience stores and restaurants, Tan added.

This year marks GQWEST’s 15th anniversary, and a series of events have been lined up to celebrate this milestone.

In May, the company will sponsor a 15-kilometer race, the proceeds of which will go to the Haribon Foundation.

In time for the start of classes in June, Aquabest products will be given away to school children who also would be provided school bags through the Department of Education’s “Balik-Eskwela Caravan.”

In June, GQWEST’s partners and clients will be treated to an appreciation party.

Also, as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility, it will turn over a fund for the benefit of children with hydrocephalus.

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