Parmalat North America is getting into the bottled water business in Canada through a partnership with a Quebec company.

The Italian-owned milk and cheese producer said last month it is partnering with Eaux Vives Harricana Inc. to sell a product called Esker spring water at stores in Canada and the United States.

"Parmalat has wanted to enter into the ever-growing bottled water category for a number of years," said Michael Rosicki, chairman and CEO of Parmalat North America.

The water, which comes from a rare geological natural filter formation called an esker, will be bottled at Parmalat's new $60-million bottling plant in Saint-Mathieu d'Harricana in the Abitibi region of northern Quebec.

Parmalat Group is a subsidiary of Parmalat S.p.A., an $8-billion Italian company with 162 plants and more than 40,000 employees on five continents.