Water

In 20 yearsÂ’ time, demand for water will be 40% higher than it is today and a third of the worldÂ’s population will experience water scarcity.

Water is essential for agriculture, it plays an important role in food manufacturers own operations and it is also sold as part of a product or as a product itself. A certain amount of water use is unavoidable for the production of food and drink products and to ensure compliance with stringent EU hygiene requirements, as food safety and hygiene are of utmost importance.

The food and drink industry has shown leadership in its voluntarily actions to reduce water use, as the quality and quantity of water available is critical for the sector’s sustainability. We are proud to report measurable achievements in improving water efficiency, saving both water and money.

Progress

Food and drink companies are involved in various initiatives to advance the measurement of the impact of water use in food and drink products. This helps to identify the weakest stages of the process and provides a blueprint on where most of the adverse impacts occur and where the biggest improvements can be made.

Food and drink products are numerous and produced in different ways. The possibilities for reducing water consumption at factory level depend on product requirements. Manufacturers have been developing and using water consumption monitoring tools and looking into technological and management solutions to improve their efficiency.

Water manufacturers are also keen on re-using water as much as possible in line with the relevant regulation on food hygiene that stipulates that recycled water used in processing or as an ingredient must be of the same standard as clean drinking water.

Finally, FoodDrinkEurope members undertake significant efforts and continuous investment to ensure sound waste water treatment, which consists of three main elements: first, to reduce the amount of waste water through efficient processing methods; second, to improve the quality of waste water through state-of the-art water treatment; and third, to optimise the re-use, recycling and recovery of waste water whenever possible.

Opportunities

  • Further roll-out of national, sector and company guidance on good water management practices
  • Improving water management in agriculture by increasing productivity in rain-fed agriculture and by more efficient irrigation.
  • Overcoming data gaps about water availability and the extent of use of good water management practices
  • EU and national policies should support efficient water management and investment in water efficient technologies
  • Governments are urged to implement respective legislative measures on water for all sectors at the national level without delay to ensure high water quality, sufficient quantity and a level playing field.
  • A globally harmonised methodology to assess the impact of water use taking into account local conditions. The food and drink industry will continue to work with stakeholders to fine tune the ISO Standard on water footprinting and to proactively engage in water stewardship.