How much are people in smog-hit China prepared to pay for fresh air? At least 219 yuan (HK$246) for a 7.7-litre bottle of “pure, hand-bottled, pollution-free, oxygen-rich air from New Zealand” – which works out to 1.2 yuan per breath, according to Chinese media.
The bottled fresh air offered by about half a dozen online retailers is become a “thriving business” as people struggle with choking smog in the northern areas of the country this winter, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.
The report said retailers were selling “unpolluted air” from New Zealand and Canada in bottles. The bottles even come with breathing masks attached.
Prices of bottled air varied according to their places of origin, according to the report.
A 7.7-litre bottle of “pure, hand-bottled, pollution-free and oxygen-rich air from New Zealand” normally costs 699 yuan, but thanks to a hefty discount it is being sold for 219 yuan per bottle.
This worked out to 1.2 yuan per breath based on the retailer’s claim that each bottle contained enough air for the buyer to take at least 180 gulps, the report said.
At least two bottles of the New Zealand air have been bought in the past month.
Another 7.2-litre bottle of “Vitality Air”, reportedly collected in Canada, costs a mere 108 yuan.
Retailers are offering an even cheaper alternative – a bottle of air collected in the coastal city of Weihai, eastern Shandong province, which costs only 5 yuan.
“No smog, absolutely pure air,” one online retail store’s advertisement read. “[Sourced] from the sea or the mountain, options available at no extra charge.”
Customers living in the nation’s heavily polluted area are being offered big discounts.
Those people living in Beijing, which reportedly suffers from the worst pollution, could be offered discounts of up to 75 per cent on the normal price of the bottled air, while people in other areas can expect to receive discounts of up to 50 per cent, the report said.
One customer, who bought a bottle of Vitality Air, posted a comment on a retailer’s website saying: “I don’t feel much different [after breathing the air].”