Weaving Niche Production into Pacific Economies: The Social, Economic and Environmental Impacts of FIJI Water on Local Communities
This research explores the pursuit of 'economies of niche' in the Pacific region and the local social, economic and environmental impacts it entails. In the 1980s, Pacific nations adopted the neoliberal ideology as a means to stimulate economic growth and rehabilitate their vulnerable economies. However, this has brought significant challenges. Among other things, Pacific nations face problems regarding the tyranny to distance markets, lack of economies of scale, and the scarcity of investment. Niche production has been recommended as a way to counteract such problems. By adopting the niche model, Pacific Island nations are encouraged to craft products based on the region‘s unique imagery as a means of achieving a distinctive market position based on geographically differentiated production. Although Pacific nations have been encouraged to pursue economies of niche, the influence and impact of this method, particularly at a local scale, remains critically unexplored. To address this, the case-study of Fiji and one of its most 'successful' globalised niche exporters FIJI Water – a multinational bottled water company – will be explored. This work critically explains and criticises the global success of FIJI Water at the macro-scale. Through village based case-studies of the social, environmental and environmental impacts of FIJI Water‘s export success an analysis of the local implications of niche production in the Pacific is also offered.