Engage with suppliers, especially those in agriculture
Without water, farmers cannot grow the crops that provide our agricultural raw materials. However, in water-scarce areas, a constant supply is not always easy to maintain. We work diligently with our producers to improve water management, ensuring that what they have is used as efficiently as possible.
Demonstrating our commitment
Local needs require tailored solutions. Our approach to water management has always been highly targeted, with detailed action plans to help address key issues. Since 2015, we have developed plans for our coffee, dairy and cereals supply chains in high-priority areas.
Our sugar supply chain required a slightly different approach, however. Here, we identified the assessment and protection of human rights as a priority, and realized this is where our interventions must start. Having made sustainable livelihoods our primary objective, we are now shifting our focus to address water management needs.
Saving water with tomato suppliers in Spain
In the Extremadura region of southern Spain, agriculture is responsible for nearly 90% of water use. With rains both seasonal and scarce, strong water management is key. We have worked with stakeholders throughout the local tomato supply chain to improve water use techniques. This has included installing new technologies such as buried irrigation, humidity sensors and flow meters. Additionally, we have analyzed the soil to optimize fertilizer use.
As a result, water consumption has reduced from 79 m3 per tonne in 2012 to 46 m3 per tonne today. This has helped our Miajadas facility in Extremadura to become the first European food factory to achieve AWS gold-level certification in 2020.
Encouraging water-efficient coffee growing in Brazil
In 2019, we built on an existing partnership with the Neumann Foundation to conduct a water study in the Espírito Santo area of Brazil. The aim was to gain a baseline understanding of local water dynamics to better inform irrigation recommendations for farmers.
Despite delays posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have now established goals to be achieved. These objectives will help target our support for farmers to reduce their water use while maintaining crop yields.