MALVERN Water will no longer be produced, ending hundreds of years of tradition.
Coca-Cola announced the end of production of Malvern Water at its Colwall plant yesterday morning, blaming competition in the industry.
A spokesman for Coca-Cola, which has been involved in production for 23 years, said the company would try to find jobs for the 17 full-time staff at the site who will otherwise be made redundant.
A Coca-Cola spokesman said: “This has been a very tough decision for us to take, particularly given the hard work and commitment shown by our staff at Malvern.
“We cannot produce enough Malvern Water on the scale it needs to compete in today’s bottled water sector. Modern bottled water plants are about 10 times the size of Colwall and can often produce more water in a day than we do in a month. That’s why Malvern Water costs more to produce and why a two-litre bottle in the supermarket sells for as little as 68 pence. The size of our site – plus the amount of water we can actually extract – means Malvern is expensive to produce and cannot compete on price.”
Malvern has only ever had one per cent of total bottled water sales in the UK in the past 10 years.
“Over the past five years, we have placed Malvern in our vending machines in UK airports, pursued new contracts and invested in the Colwall plant. But we simply can’t change the size of the plant, or extract the volume of water needed, for Malvern to compete in today’s highly competitive bottled water sector” said a spokesman.
The site is due to close at the beginning of November and Coca-Cola plans to sell the site for residential use, rather than industrial.
The news was greeted with shock in Malvern. Paul Tuthill, a district councillor and chairman of Malvern Town Council, said: “This is a great shock. What is the Queen going to do about her water because she always drank Malvern Water? I think Coca-Cola ought to offer it for sale to local entrepreneurs to take it over rather than just sell the site for high value housing.”
Roger Sutton, chairman of Malvern Civic Society, said: “It has not been pure Malvern Water for around two years. Coca-Cola has been filtering the water for some time. It is serious that 17 people have lost their jobs but the writing has been on the wall for some time.”
Rhys Humm, company director of Holywell Spring Water, based in Malvern Wells, which bottles water from the Holywell which has been used since 1558, said he hoped the Queen would now switch to their company’s brand.
He said: “We will be in contact with the Queen very shortly. She can expect a letter from me in the next few days. We have aimed very much for the top end of the market like Michelin star restaurants.”
A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said: “We would not be able to comment on what the Queen does and doesn’t like.”
Timeline of Malvern Water
• The oldest well in Malvern is Holywell, sometimes called Holy Well, which has been in use since 1558 although Malvern Water is actually bottled at Colwall at Primes Well, once called the Pewtriss Spring.
• Queen Elizabeth I drank water from Malvern in the 16th century and it is said Queen Victoria refused to travel without it and that it is the only bottled water used by Queen Elizabeth II when she travels the world.
• In 1757 Dr John Wall’s findings on the curative value of Malvern water were published and by the 1840s thousands of health conscious visitors were flocking to the town. The water was marketed under the original brand of Schweppes which began bottling it on a commercial scale in 1850.
• The plant at Colwall used to employ 80 people in the mid 1970s.
• In October 1993 the Department of Heath stopped providing Malvern Water, once available on prescription on the NHS, because of spiralling costs.
• Princess Anne visited the Colwall Plant on October 26, 2001.
• Coca-Cola has planned to lay a 1.7 mile pipeline from the Walms Well source on the Eastnor Estate to a junction with the existing pipe network at Primes Well, near the company’s Colwall factory. The company withdrew the application in January 2005.
• In April 2007 how Malvern Water was downgraded because of impurities having being classed as natural mineral water by the EU 20 years before this.