Food Companies Need to Invest in Sustainable Water Practices, Now

Food companies need to invest in sustainable water.

Everyone on this not-so-big blue and green planet of ours needs to start thinking about water conservation. Fast. And by everyone, I’m meaning big food companies, too. The latest information comes from a new report from Ceres, an environmental sustainability group.

According to NPR, food companies work with many farmers, which isn’t surprising. These farmers are often the ones that are contributing to water pollution via chemical and manure runoff. This should be a big deal to food companies because they rely on clean water to operate. However, many of these massive food companies are “asleep at the wheel” and aren’t actively assessing the water impacts that are “associated with the farmers, the dairies, and the ranchers that they source from,” states Brooke Barton, co-author of the Ceres’ water report. The number of the food companies that aren’t “actively assessing the water impacts?” Two-thirds of the 37 U.S. food companies that were examined in the report.

Yeesh.

This is all kinds of crazy, considering that food companies take a big financial hit when it comes to water scarcity.

“Cargill reported a 12 percent drop in 2014 fourth-quarter profits linked to the drought’s impact on beef production and Coca-Cola decided in April 2015 not to build an $81 million bottling plant in southern India because local farmers said it might exhaust groundwater supplies,” reports NPR on the Ceres study.

So, how are some mega-food companies trying to convince farmers to work with water in a more sustainable way? Money.

“Unilever, the producer of Hellmann’s mayonnaise, is paying their Iowa soybean farmers ten cents a bushel to adopt sustainable water practices,” NPR reports.

The main trick is making the entire supply chain more sustainable. Barton says it’s high time for these food companies to start investing in watershed and agriculture.

Let’s hope more of these large food companies invest in sustainable water practices soon.

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