Seven food manufacturers sign up for AgWater Challenge
Seven major companies have signed up for the AgWater Challenge, an initiative created by Ceres and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to encourage companies to reduce water use in their global supply chains.
The companies – Diageo, General Mills, Hain Celestial, Hormel Foods, Kellogg, PepsiCo, and WhiteWave Foods – all submitted detailed sustainable sourcing and water stewardship plans and, in a year’s time, progress reports on their commitments will be issued.
Brooke Barton, Senior Director of the Water and Food Program at Ceres, said: “Major food brands can be a powerful and constructive force for scaling water stewardship, especially at the farm level where the biggest footprint is by far. These brands recognise the material financial impact that water risks pose to their business, from supply disruptions, to higher operating costs, to growth constraints. More than ever, companies are responding to these supply risks through farmer incentives, local partnerships and bottom line reductions.”
Commitments by Challenge participants include:
- PepsiCo will work with its agricultural suppliers to improve the water efficiency of its direct agricultural supply chain by 15 percent by 2025 (compared to 2015) in high water risk sourcing areas, including India and Mexico.
- Hain Celestial is setting a new sustainable sourcing goal for key agricultural inputs, including a commitment to strengthen water and fertilizer management practices of farmers in its ingredient and protein supply chains;
- Hormel Foods will develop a comprehensive water stewardship policy, setting water management expectations that go beyond regulatory compliance for its major suppliers, contract animal growers and feed suppliers – a meat industry first. Hormel Foods will also support and engage with growers in high water risk regions by gathering water-related data from contract growers and growers that supply animal feed - and establishing time-bound goals aimed at improving water quality in high water risk regions; and
- WhiteWave Foods will develop a time-bound road map for agricultural water stewardship over the next 24 months that addresses shared water challenges facing their key commodities (dairy, soy, almond and produce in particular) in areas of greatest water risk, including California. They will also support and scale projects that restore freshwater systems in areas material to supply chains and engage in policy advocacy to strengthen water management in high risk priority sourcing regions.
Roberta Barbieri, Vice President, Global Environmental and Water Solutions, PepsiCo, commented: “We are proud of our decades-long water stewardship efforts as part of our sustainable business agenda called Performance with Purpose. Expanding our water goals to include PepsiCo’s agricultural supply chain is a key part of our Positive Water Impact strategy, designed to enable long-term sustainable water security for our food and beverage business and others who depend on water availability.”
In addition to new commitments, the AgWater Challenge recognises companies with far-reaching, ongoing commitments. Diageo, General Mills, and Kellogg were recognized as AgWater Stewards for showing action across all five categories of the groups’ AgWater Challenge checklist – from water risk assessments and setting reduction goals, to reducing water risk in agricultural supply chains and supporting producers in addressing these issues.
Jerry Lynch, Chief Sustainability Officer at General Mills, said: “The footprint of our extended value chain goes well beyond our offices and facilities. A very large portion of that footprint is in agriculture. The challenges facing our company and our planet are more pressing than ever, so we have to build resiliency in our supply chains to ensure that we can continue to serve the world by making food people love. Our ambition through the AgWater Challenge and all of our water initiatives is to lead by example and we hope to encourage others to do the same.”
In 2017, Ceres will evaluate the companies’ adherence to their commitments through the release its second “Feeding Ourselves Thirsty” report, which benchmarks global food and beverage companies on their water management practices. All of the AgWater Stewards will be benchmarked in the report, along with several dozen additional companies.
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