Food and drink manufacturers enhance water management under new ambition

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has revealed that members who voluntarily reported on water use in 2016 have reduced consumption in the production of food and drink items by 35.8% since 2007.

The new data set released by FDF, which represents 16% of the entire UK food manufacturing sector, highlighted an improvement on the prior year’s results which recorded a 30% reduction.

FDF’s chief scientist Helen Munday said: “Water is a critically important resource for our industry and for the food supply of the UK. Today’s results are impressive and clearly demonstrate the commitment of our members to continuous improvement.

“Under FDF’s Ambition 2025, members will continue to take action on water use, both in terms of operational efficiency and reducing impacts across supply chains.”

The 2025 ambition targets carbon, food waste, water consumption, sustainable packaging and transport emissions. A 20% industry-wide water consumption reduction target by 2020 is also in place.

FDF’s data pooled from the past 12 months accounts for approximately 10% of water use within the UK food and drink manufacturing sector.

This is a decline on last year’s data, which represented approximately 20% of all sites. The previous data included reports from FDF and WRAP’s Federation House Commitment which ran until 2014. From 2015, all water data was collected by FDF and 93 sites were collated for the most recent update.

In addition to the decline in water use, water intensity per unit of production has also fallen by 36.6%, decreasing by 0.89m per tonne of product against the 2007 baseline.

Water wins

Water management is being subjected to increased focus in the UK, where the open water market is creating the ability to bundle utility services, which will give rise to cost savings and efficiency.

The recent edie Live event in Birmingham shone a light on the importance that water management can have on other areas of the business. Companies including L’Oréal and Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) explained that the business case for water stewardship could be strengthened by appealing to the energy and financial management teams.

Analysis of the event will be published shortly.

Matt Mace

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