Actor Will Smith signs up Northern Ireland companies to help launch 'ethical' water
Two Northern Ireland companies will be involved in the UK production and distribution of a new water brand created by actor and rapper Will Smith and his son Jaden, creating up to 20 new roles.
Just Water, which was founded to help combat ocean plastic pollution, will be packaged at Norbev Ltd in Ballymena, while Belfast-based Red Star Brands will manage the UK distribution of the brand.
Just Water aims to target the growing water segment of the soft drinks industry but minimise pollution with packaging that is made of 82% renewable resources.
The packaging is also recyclable in nine out of 10 UK communities where kerbside or bring bank collecting is available.
It was launched in the UK yesterday through 800 Boots stores retailing at £1.29.
Ciaran Doherty, managing director at Norbev Ltd, which produces the water here, said his firm's spring water source and history of working with US brands helped secure the deal.
He said: "The product's packaging is totally different to what we're traditionally used to and ticks the box in terms of sustainability. We believed in this product as soon as we saw it and had to move very quickly to launch in Boots."
Norbev invested in a new production system to produce the line.
Mr Doherty added: "As a result, we've installed a completely new multi-million pound production line at our Ballymena plant and when fully operational this line will employ a further 20 people."
Clark McIlroy, MD at Red Star Brands, the UK distributor for Just Water, said: "Plastic usage has become a hot topic in recent years, and with six in 10 UK shoppers looking to minimise their own plastic consumption, there is a definite demand for ethical brands like Just Water to disrupt consumer habits.
"More consumers are also demanding brands that enable them to make a difference and Just Water is very well placed to appeal to those ethical consumers.
"Just is already having a positive impact on the environment and we are certain it will continue to drive change here."
Jaden Smith (19) said he had the idea for Just Water when he was 11. The Smiths have already expanded the line in the US by introducing a flavoured water.