International food and beverage companies have been singled out for their commitment to mitigating water risk in their supply chains.
Seven companies, including PepsiCo, The Hain Celestial Group and Kellogg Company, have been recognised as “AgWater Stewards” as part of a water sustainability scheme launched by WWF and the non-profit organisation Ceres.
The AgWater Challenge aims to reduce the impact of agriculture on global freshwater supplies by working through the supply chains of food and beverage companies.
The stewards are expected to “provide examples of leadership and encourage stronger, more transparent commitments to better steward fresh water resources in agricultural supply chains,” WWF said.
The challenge asks firms to make time-bound and measurable commitments to reduce their water impact through locally-relevant risk mitigation strategies in areas of water scarcity or where there are quality concerns.
Firms are also asked to support and incentivise farmers and other agricultural producers to become better managers of their own water resources.
The scheme offers participants technical assistance from NGOs and opportunities to share best practice with other firms.
Ceres claimed 70% of the world’s water is used in agriculture. It said climate change, population growth and water pollution were rapidly depleting global freshwater resources.
“These challenges, while devastating to people and the environment, pose major financial risks to food and beverage companies and their businesses… if water risks are left unchecked and unsolved,” it said.
PepsiCo has said it will work with its agricultural suppliers to improve water efficiency of its direct agricultural suppliers by 15% in high water risk areas, a commitment it also outlined in a recent sustainability report.
The Hain Celestial Group, behind brands including Robertson’s, Linda McCartney’s and Johnsons Juice Co, said it aims to complete a water risk assessment of its entire supply chain by the end of 2017. It has pledged to provide educational support to farmers in its animal feed supply chains to help them reduce their water and climate impact.
Kellogg Company said it was supporting 17,000 agricultural suppliers, millers and farmers to optimise their water use through financial and management assistance.
The other AgWater Stewards are Hormel Foods, which owns the Applegate and Jennie-O brands, WhiteWave Foods, behind Alpro and So Delicious, Diageo and General Mills, who produce Jus-Rol, Betty Crocker and Cheerios.
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