During World Water Week, food producer Knorr launched a new behaviour change campaign to drive awareness of the "hidden" water waste impacts in food production, encouraging consumers to take action to reduce their water footprint.
Knorr, one of our partner Unilever’s sustainable living brands, has outlined a number of key steps to help shoppers cut back on ‘invisible’ water waste. The company, which sells stock and flavour pots, is hoping to get consumers to act on water footprints just as it is within its own supply chain.
While we’re conscious that the way we shower, fill our kettles and run our taps has an impact on our water use, many are unaware that the majority of water we use each day is actually hidden in the production of the food we eat. An average adult uses 140 litres of water for domestic consumption (cleaning, cooking, drinking and washing), but twenty times that amount has already been used behind the scenes to produce the food they eat, with ‘invisible’ water use averaging 3,800 litres per day – enough to fill seven standard hot tubs.
Reducing our water footprint has never been more important, with around 4 billion people affected by severe water scarcity for at least one month a year and UN predictions stating that by 2030, around half of the global population could be facing water shortages. But every year around 90 per cent of the world’s total surface and ground water is consumed in crop production.
Knorr is working with farmers across the world to meet sustainable agriculture standards and pioneer new techniques to reduce water used to produce crops used in their products. By using methods such as ‘drip irrigation’, farmers who have been a part of the Knorr sustainable agriculture programme for three years have saved an average of 10.6 kilotons of water – that’s 700,000 buckets, or over 5.7 million glasses of water.
Simple changes to our everyday food choices can make a big impact on our personal water footprint. Knorr has used data from Water Footprint Network’s product gallery to provide 3 key tips to help you make more responsible food choices every day including a handy list of fresh food alternatives that require less water to produce.
1. Swap it out- choose fresh food alternatives that use less water to produce
Source: Water Footprint Network
2. Look for the logo – look for sustainably sourced ingredients on products
Looking out for products that adhere to a sustainability scheme is a simple choice you can make in the supermarket that can have a big impact on water use. Researching the ingredient sourcing standards of the brands behind the product can also provide information and reassurance on the sustainable farming methods used. Knorr is working to source 100% of its ingredients sustainably by 2020 and by the end of 2015 had sourced 92% if its top 13 ingredients sustainably, marked by a Knorr Sustainability Partnership logo on its products to reassure that these ingredients are sustainably sourced. Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade are other schemes which help farmers with water management.
3. Reduce Food Waste – take care to waste less food and the water it has taken to produce it
Andrea Granier, Unilever Procurement Operations Manager for Sustainable Sourcing says: “Knorr’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and sustainable water practices have already made a big difference, with 17.8% of irrigation water saved already. Our farmers are continuing to build their expertise in more sustainable techniques, which means they can work with nature to use minimal resources giving crops just the right amount of water to bring out their flavour. Our tomatoes aren’t watered for about a week before they’re picked, and are all the sweeter for it.”
Ruth Mathews, Executive Director, Water Footprint Network comments: “Most consumers would be shocked to find out that 92% of their water footprint is a result of the water used to produce the food they eat – and that it might be produced in areas where water is scarce or polluted. That’s why efforts by companies to reduce the water footprint of crops and to educate consumers on their food choices are more important than ever. World Water Week provides a great opportunity to consider how we each can contribute to improving the sustainability of water resources through our daily lives.”