Corporate Social Responsibiliy

Embedded water in the food supply chain

Media interest in water in the food supply chain continues to grow with the BBC news today providing extensive coverage to this issue. More information is available on the BBC News website
Some people are forecasting that food safety and food security are starting to merge, this presents the perfect storm for those responsible for supply chain assurance in that there are already serious pressures and requirements on food safety professionals which they are struggling to meet. It seems that the pace of development of requirements on the food industry is getting faster with every year that passes. In fact it could be argued that the change in requirements is faster than industries ability to keep up. Can you imagine supplier auditing and raw material specifications having to take account of water conservation?
Some of the statistics reported make startling reading. The reported embedded water in the following products, per Kg, were:
Tea – 30 litres
Apples – 70 litres
Coffee – 140 litres
Beer – 150 litres
Bread – 440 litres
Chicken – 683 litres
Sugar – 1500 litres
Cheese – 2500 litres
Rice – 3400 litres
Beef – 3875 litres
But a pair of jeans had 10,850 litres so I guess jeans are off the menu!
Thinking about the amout of water that is in our food supply chain is probably something that we are going to have to think about some more, but it is one of these issues where something needs to be done but the logistical and political challenge required is hugh, not to mind the data gathering and assessment challenges.
This issue is going to increase in importance but some serious consideration, and support, needs to be given to allow industry to respond. Is it sufficient for government and regulators to stand back and leave this to industry, I would contend not, but them what would the likely outcome be if government and regulators became involved, a real catch 22!
And how do you compare information, ie compare apples to apples :

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