Mineral water factory tapped for tourism

Factory manager Pierre Rietsch affirmed that no chemical treatment is used in the bottling process.​ Thik Kaliyann
Factory manager Pierre Rietsch affirmed that no chemical treatment is used in the bottling process.​ Thik Kaliyann

Mineral water factory tapped for tourism

Siem Reap province has a new tourist attraction – a factory manufacturing Eau Kulen natural bottled water at Phnom Kulen.

The factory encourages visitors and provides guided tours to tourists venturing in the area, according to factory manager Pierre Rietsch.

He said the factory has special galleries enabling visitors to see the production of the water and added, “There is no secret in our water treatment. We always welcome any visitors who wish to see the way we produce the natural mineral water.”

The Kulara Water Company, the manufacturers of Eau Kulen, Cambodia’s first bottled natural mineral water began selling water in April, and hopes to become a significant player in the local bottled water market, adding to the economy of Siem Reap province.

The manufacturers built a factory at the foot of Kulen Mountain in Tbeng Keurt village, Banteay Srei district in 2010, and installed a water treatment machine at the end of last year.

A factory worker checks bottles of Eau Kulen for purity.​ Thik Kaliyann
A factory worker checks bottles of Eau Kulen for purity.​ Thik Kaliyann

The mineral water itself is drawn from a deep aquifer at Phnom Kulen, and the water is bottled at source. Both the factory and the process comply with World Health Organisation guidelines for drinking water, the European Directives for Drinking Water and Mineral Water and the International Bottled Water Association Model Code.

The factory employs 33 people and, according to Pierre Rietsch, has a full daily production capacity of 9,000 small or 550ml bottles, and 6,000 large or 1.5litre bottles.

Rietsch added that no chemical treatment is used in the production process to preserve the fine taste and health benefits of the pure natural mineral water which is particularly abundant in calcium and magnesium.

Rietsch likens the taste of Eau Kulen to that of one of the most expensive and luxurious French bottled waters. He claims, “If you taste this water you will find that it’s almost similar to Evian.”

He said the Kulara Water Company was established by French investors, headed by Bernard Forey, the head of CFA Investments which produces La Vie mineral water in Vietnam and owns bottled water companies in Australia such as Palm Springs on the Gold Coast, and Koala Springs and CottonWood Valley in Ballarat, Victoria.

Rietsch said that “about $7 million was invested in the Eau Kulen project.” Leopard Capital, through its Leopard Cambodia Fund, invested $4.1 million for 50 per cent stake. On May 6 this year Leopard Capital announced that it had “exited its entire investment in Cambodia's Kulara Water to the company's founding shareholder. Details of the transaction were not disclosed.” Additional text by Peter Olszewski

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