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Water footprint of groceries

Water footprint of groceries

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This study compares the water footprint of different types of food and beverages. It takes into account the typical scarcity of water in the region where the food (ingredients) is produced (grown) and notes the following:

  • Meat and dairy products (e.g. beef, deli food, canned meat): Per kilogram of product, animal products generally have a larger water foot print than crop products, due to the water footprint of the feed consumed by the animal throughout its lifetime (i.e. water required to grow animal feed crops and the generally poor conversion efficiency between the volume of animal feed required to produce the same volume of meat.
  • Concentrated products (e.g. juice, seasonings, dressings (olive oil)). For example concentrated juice has a higher annual Total Water Footprint Impact Indicator compared to fresh juice due to greater concentration of fruit.
  • Products originating from counties with inherently high evapotranspiration and crop water requirements and therefore high green water footprint (e.g. chocolate from Ivory Coast, coffee originating from Brazil and bananas originating from Ghana and Brazil).
  • Products grown in countries with high water scarcity (e.g. rice sourced from India and Pakistan and tea sourced from Kenya and India).
  • Products driven by high sales (e.g. bread and rolls, milk, carbonated drinks and juice) where, although water impact per kg is relatively low, annual kg consumption is high. For example, the water footprint of wheat grown or imported into the UK is typically far below the global average. However, sales of bread and rolls represent 9% of total UK grocery sales.”

Link to full report

While we make every effort to be accurate, we do not claim that this summary is representative. Please refer to our Legal Disclaimer for details.


Report Rating: 3 out of 3

Report Published: 2013

Country: UK

Author(s): Karen Fisher and Keith James (WRAP), Richard Sheane (Best Foot Forward), Jayne Nippress (URS Infrastructure & Environment UK Ltd), Stephen Allen, Jean – Yves Cherruault and Matt Fishwick (Sustain Ltd), Rob Lillywhite and Carla Sarrouy (Warwick Crop Centre)

Publisher:  WRAP

Funder:  not known

Keywords: sustainability, energy, greenhouse gas emissions, CO2, environmental footprint, food, groceries, beverages, drinks, water consumption

Related Info: water footprint network – product gallery


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