Indonesia's only natural mineral water destined for distant shores

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JAKARTA--Equil, Indonesia's only natural mineral water, is set to start exporting after only a year in business.

Talks are underway with companies in Singapore and Australia, says Morgan Sutanto, director of Equil, with hopes for exports to begin later in the year.

The water is bottled at source from a mountain spring at the foot of a West Java mountain. Marketed in both spark-ling and still varieties, the water is claimed to be free of contaminants and undergoes no processing.

Indonesia's tap water is not suitable for drinking, with most households and businesses subscribing to water delivery services. The market leader has long been Aqua Golden Mississippi, producer of the Aqua brand, which has stamped its name on the collective Indonesian consciousness as the drink of choice.

Equil received a boost when it was chosen for the presidential palace and weekly Cabinet meetings. Mr. Sutanto identifies a high-end market of expatriates and affluent Indonesians as the brand's core target. He has successfully marketed Equil to five-star hotels in the Indonesian capital.

"I'm very proud that an Indonesian product like Equil can compete with foreign products," Mr. Sutanto says. "At some major shopping centers frequented by expatriates, Equil outsells [French brands] Evian and Perrier."

Equil is short for "equilibrium", claimed to be a reflection of the company's philosophy. "We are not just about making a profit. We are making a statement about striking an equilibrium in your life, about creating balance for you and the people who drink Equil," Mr. Sutanto says. "Someone can look over at people drinking Equil in a restaurant and know that a statement is being made."

Mr. Sutanto says he is trying to raise awareness among the Indonesian public about the difference between natural mineral water, which cannot undergo any treatment, and mineral water, such as Aqua, which can be treated to remove any impurities.

Copyright March 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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