Vitality Air is just one of a variety of companies that are profiting from the near-absurd business of selling canned, bottled or even bagged air. The notion — maybe best known for being a gag in the 1987 movie Spaceballs — is finding a market in China, a country with a crisis-level pollution problem and growing upper and middle classes willing to spend on the finer things in life.
Largely seen as a novelty gift at its launch last October, Vitality Air, has since sold 12,000 bottles in China to customers including athletes, business executives and families with small children. It’s also not an entirely new business — one Chinese businessman started selling canned air in 2012.
The air doesn’t come cheap. Vitality Air charges between $20 and $32 for a canister that lasts between 150 and 200 breaths.
Vitality Air and its competitors are filling a dystopian market opportunity created by China’s air pollution. Millions of deaths have already been attributed to air pollution in China and India. On Thursday, the World Health Organization released its newest study, finding that air pollution in China continues to be well in excess of safe levels — and the impact is felt disproportionately by lower classes.
“Urban air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, wreaking havoc on human health,” said Dr. Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Department of Public Health, in the recent study. “At the same time, awareness is rising and more cities are monitoring their air quality. When air quality improves, global respiratory and cardiovascular-related illnesses decrease.”
Vitality Air – Canada
$20 – $32/ each
Aether – United Kingdom
$115/ bottle (Luxury Air)
pAIRadise – San Diego, CA
ebay listing (website in progress)
mountainairfromswitzerland.com – Switzerland
$97/ pint (also features certificate of authenticity and GPS Coordinates of where the air was harvested)
Green and Clean – Australia