When Joe Commisso discovered a natural aquifer beneath his Beloka property back in 2008, he was astonished to learn it contained a high volume of natural mineral water.
The water was flowing from a protected single subterranean source at the foot of the Snowy Mountains in NSW, and unlike many other commercial water companies, Commisso opted to process and bottle it on location.
He says this made the decision to sell Beloka Water in glass bottles obvious from the start. “This was a premium water and deserved to be in glass.”
Now, with the nation’s appetite for single-use plastic on the wane, and a growing list of industry plaudits for Beloka’s water both here and overseas, his decision has proven to be an astute one.
Global concern about the impact of plastics in the environment, and growing fears over the potential risks of micro plastic contamination in bottled water, have placed suppliers under increasing scrutiny.
A non-peer reviewed study published earlier this year by journalism non-profit, Orb Media, raised global concerns about the purity of bottled drinking water, with its research indicating that synthetic polymers could be present in numerous high-profile water brands overseas.
“When the story about micro plastics in plastic bottles emerged, we took the opportunity to test our own water, even though we sell it in glass bottles,” Commisso says.
“We consciously made the decision to bottle at source to eliminate the possibility of contamination, so the chance of our bottled water containing micro plastics seemed unlikely, but we had it tested anyway, and got a clean bill of health.”
In spite of the ecological and health concerns, demand for bottled water among Australians continues to rise as consumers seek to avoid high-sugar beverages, according to the latest research from IBISworld.
And while Beloka Water is clearly benefiting from this trend, Commisso says it was not his original intention to enter the water business. He was, in fact, searching for water to support the fledgling olive grove on his Beloka property, when the discovery was made.
“All the dams were dry, so we started drilling for water, and all of a sudden we found the mineral water in very large quantities.”
Beloka now sells both still and sparkling mineral water to customers all around Australia, and also exports bottled water to China.
The business is also on the cusp of adding suppliers in Dubai to its international customer base, Commisso says.
In a sector that spans everything from natural spring and mineral water to artificially purified and mineralised water, consumers are becoming more discerning about what they drink, he says.