Norway glaciers next exotic export

Diners and drinkers around the world are set to have their drinks chilled by a product dating back some 1,000 years

Photo: Avani / Part of the Svartisen Glacier, which could soon be available for use in high-end cocktails.

Photo: Avani /
Part of the Svartisen Glacier, which could soon be available for use in high-end cocktails.

Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

“We’ve obtained customers and are talking to a supplier in Dubai. Other world cities such as London and New York could be next,” Geir Ludvik Olsen, who founded Nordland County-based company Svaice last year, tells The Foreigner.

The raw ice cubes straight from northern Norway’s Svartisen Glacier are intended for so-termed high-end market use such as in luxury restaurants. They are not made from glacial ice that has been melted, purified, and then refrozen again, it is specified.

Bar and restaurant customers, who may already be familiar with designer water Voss, will also be able to say they are joining an already-established tradition in Norway.

“People in this area have used the glacial ice for weddings and other functions before,” Olsen says.

Extracting the ice at Kilvik will require specially developed heavy and robust mechanical/hydraulic equipment for use atop the glacier. Nordland Country officials also say that the tasks of transporting this equipment up to the site and conducting a test drilling need to be carried out.

Up to NOK 250,000 (some USD 33,000 / EUR 29,000 / GBP 21,400) has been granted towards this pilot project. Svaice has put up an equal amount in equivalent work hours.

Should the pilot project be successful and further wider-scale approval given, the frozen goods will then be transported to Oslo in freezer containers. They will then be unloaded and transferred across for onward transport to the foreign-based suppliers.

The ice cubes have particular properties, said to split and make noise in the glass as they thaw. “They’re slow-melting due to their density too,” explains Olsen. “People who have tried them say they have a subtle mineral taste, something which is a cut above ice cubes made from bad-tasting local water.”

“There’s also an annual extraction limit of 3,600 cubic meters, or some 16 million ice cubes, which is why this product is considered to be a luxury commodity.”

The idea for exporting the exotic product, which laboratory tests have shown is composed of 100 percent spring water, came from working in cooperation with the tourism industry, according to Olsen.

“We initially thought of establishing a hotel where the ice cubes would be served. But then we decided to go global, setting up a factory to manufacture and sell them,” he says.

Energy the factory uses comes from the local hydropower planet, which produces electricity from glacial meltwater.

Olsen adds that long-term plans include offering a transport solution that allows luxury goods-seeking consumers to take the product home from shops.

“If you can have a 50-year-old whisky, why not a 1,000-year-old ice cube as well?” concludes Olsen.

Arve Knutsen, Nordland County Council advisor for business and regional development, hopes the project will give positive ripple effects. “It could create new jobs, increase tourism, and put the Svartisen Glacier on the world map in completely new ways,” he says.

Facts about the glacier:

• Norway’s second-largest glacier

• Svartisen is a term designating a system of two separate glaciers: Vestre Svartisen and Østre Svartisen

• Vestre Svartisen covers an area of 221 square kilometers (some 85 square miles) and has a maximum altitude of 1,580 meters above sea level (almost 5,184 feet)

• Østre Svartisen covers an area of 148 square kilometers (about 57 square miles) and has a maximum altitude of 1,550 meters above sea level (about 5,085 feet)

• Norway’s second-largest glacier—Jostedalsbreen, located in western Norway’s Sogn og Fjordane Country covers an area of 487 square kilometers (some 188 square miles) and has a maximum altitude of 2,000 meters above sea level (almost 6,562 feet)

(Source: The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE))

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit

It also appeared in the Feb. 27, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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