Richard Branson and Ofra Strauss introducing Virgin Pure.
Teatime is central to British culture, and a new product developed with UK and Israeli partners is changing the face of British teatime and home water consumption in general.
Imagine boiling hot and cold filtered water available all day, on demand. This is the promise of the Virgin Pure water system created by Virgin Strauss Water, a new joint venture pairing Israel’s family-owned Strauss Group and Britain’s Virgin brand owned by aviation mogul Richard Branson. The small device, about the size of an espresso machine, is much less bulky than a water cooler and dispenses high-quality filtered water from the tap.
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Two models are currently available in the United Kingdom, both available in a range of five colors. The units are built with triple filters that eliminate unpleasant tastes and impurities from tap water while retaining healthful minerals such as magnesium and calcium.
The Virgin Pure water dispenser may be a first for the UK, but a similar machine called the Tami has been used in Israeli kitchens for many years. Acquired by Strauss Water five years ago, the product has become increasingly popular as the Israeli public becomes more concerned about water quality.
Jamie Oliver uses one
Water is big business, and as environmental ideals penetrate UK households so has the desire to buy fewer bottled water products to avoid plastics in landfills.
Some 20 percent of UK homes currently use bottled water while another 20% are buying filter jugs, like Brita, proving to executives at Virgin Strauss Water that there are at least 10 million people in the UK who choose not to drink water straight from the tap.
Celebrities like chef Jamie Oliver have already bought a Virgin Pure at the cost of about £300, or about $470.
The deal was just announced between Strauss and Virgin in March, but it was struck two years ago after a meeting between Branson and Strauss group chairwoman Ofra Strauss, along with Shai Weiss, an Israeli co-partner in Virgin Green Fund, a clean-tech investment house.
“Virgin Strauss Water will utilize the Virgin brand, under a 30-year agreement, to market, sell and service Strauss Water’s products, initially in the UK and Ireland,” Strauss Water VP for marketing Michal Gur Shavit tells ISRAEL21c. “The joint venture operations will benefit from the products, technologies and the water expertise of Strauss Water and its existing operations, which have operated in the UK since 2004.”
She says that additional countries will be targeted at a later stage.
Touch of a button
Branson, a marketing guru who invented a tilting train, founded an aviation company and plans to send civilians to space, said in a joint release: “I love businesses that help to improve our way of life and Virgin Pure’s T7 does just that by encouraging people to drink more water in an efficient way. Pure, chilled and boiling drinking water at the touch of a button means no more lugging bottles home, waiting for filter jugs to trickle through or kettles to boil for that great cup of tea.”
Gur Shavit has a little experience working in the UK and she doesn’t see any hurdles in changing the way the British drink and boil their water. On the contrary, ”From over a year of selling thousands of these products to tea-lovers in the UK, I can guarantee that once they try preparing tea with our products, they will fall in love: No need to wait for the kettle to boil, no bad tastes in the tea, no unpleasant film on the surface of the liquid,” she tells ISRAEL21c.
Strauss started its foray into the water business in 2007 when it invested in water purification technology. By 2009, Strauss Water was founded and acquired Israeli-based international water company Tana Industries and its well-known Tami 4 filtration unit. In 2010, Strauss Water launched the T6 water unit in the UK and the Water Maker in China followed in 2011.
Strauss Group is a large and multinational food and beverage company based in Israel with some 25 production sites over 18 countries. Its five companies include Strauss Israel, Strauss Coffee, Strauss PepsiCo, Strauss Water and the chocolate brand Max Brenner.