Today, 71% of the global population lives under conditions of moderate to severe water scarcity. This increasing demand for water threatens our future ability to produce food for a growing population. Simply put, food and beverage companies must work to protect this valuable resource and our future food supply. There are three major ways companies can address water scarcity:
1. Advocate for a transparent and improved supply chain.
As food passes along the chain from farm to fork, it has potential to be wasted at every step. This means that water and other resources used are also wasted.
Whether water is used as an ingredient in products, for production, or for the cleaning of raw materials, machines and equipment, it is an essential resource. Costs associated with the consumption and discharge of water are forecast to rise, which could create a financial risk for companies that don’t implement water conservation measures.
The food and beverage industry’s network must work together on water use and waste.
2. Improve production practices to preserve water resources.
It doesn’t take a food scientist to know a great deal of water goes into the production of food. For example, beef utilizes an average of 1,847 gallons per pound (1,5415 liters per kilogram). One pound of coffee beans requires 2,264 gallons of water. That means the cup of coffee you drank this morning required 34 gallons of water to produce.
Food and beverage companies can take direct aim to reduce the amount of water used by evaluating production processes to maximize efficiency and investing in innovation. New technology, among many other things, can allow for better data gathering to boost productivity, leading to better yields and less waste.
3. Tackle the food loss and food waste eating away at our water supply.
The industry has to take a serious stance on food loss and food waste to be able to reduce the waste of water. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, today nearly half of all fruits and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood and 20% of all meat is wasted or lost—translating to more than 66 trillion gallons (250 trillion liters) of water used for producing food that’s wasted each year.
From farmer to processor to food packaging companies like Sealed Air and all the way to the consumer, there are many ways to address the water scarcity challenge. Let World Water Day this March 22nd be a reminder of our charge.
At Sealed Air, we’re committed to reducing the impact of our own operations and helping our customers to do the same.