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Water footprint: the need to find out how much water is consumed across the supply chain

Espresso-live Speakers
by Sakthi Prasad
26 August 2014

The world is hurtling towards acute water scarcity. The freshwater resources are fast depleting at a time when water demand is going up. Global demand for freshwater is expected to be 40% above the available resources by 2030.

Water scarcity will begin to affect many industries, especially the ones which are operating out of water-stressed regions. However, industry players haven't yet began a coordinated effort to tackle this looming crisis mainly because it hasn't come to bite them yet.

Should the companies wait until the chickens come home to roost and then scramble around to find a solution? Of course not as waiting until the eleventh hour to act is not a feasible option.

If companies have to act now then what are the plausible solutions to tackle such shortages? The concept of "water footprint" can come in handy. It is a process by which companies identify how much water is consumed across the supply chain.

Let us concede that it is not easy to map out the water footprint across the supply chain as it is difficult to have visibility all through Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers.


However, it is important to go ahead and do it as it would deliver not just cost savings but also gear up companies for potential water-related regulations that can come up in the future. These regulations can be similar to conflict diamond, conflict mineral and sustainable palm oil campaigns. There will come a time when companies will be asked to show that they are indeed consuming water in a sustainable manner. Many competing metrics could come up in the future to measure sustainability -- but before all of that comes to the fore it would help firms if they start marking their water footprint. That's the first step in the long march towards water conservation.

During the webinar, Beroe analyst Srikanth Pingali talked about how water scarcity will begin to affect the brewers and how best to go about getting the water footprint done. Pingali also talked about the example of brewers operating in South Africa - a highly water stressed region. Please note that the brewers are cited only to better illustrate the need for water footprint. The first principles to be discussed in this webinar will be applicable across all industries.

Key Takeaway

1) How much water is consumed at various stages of a brewery's supply chain?

2) Factors impacting the existing value chains that cause high water footprints

3) The importance of category management and its role in mapping out the water footprint

Click here to download the Presentation.

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