Meat companies need to follow the lead of packaged food companies when it comes to reducing their impact on water resources, says GlobalData.
A new report from US-based sustainability advocacy organisation Ceres has praised some of the biggest packaged food operators for acknowledging and acting on water resource risks but meat producers seem to be lagging some way behind.
Andy Coyne, Food Correspondent at GlobalData, says: “It’s a mixed report from Ceres but it is clear that some of the big meatpackers are well off the pace.
“As Ceres says, food companies are among the first to feel the financial heat of climate change, as rising average global temperatures and shifting weather patterns make fresh water scarcer and agricultural production more volatile. It is in their own best interest to take action.”
The report ranks the 40 largest global food companies based on their management of water risks in their operations and agricultural supply chains.
It highlights some “significant improvements” in key areas including board oversight of water risks and strategies and the establishment of water use or efficiency targets. However, the analysis also found that, despite 77% of companies in the report specifically mentioning water as a risk factor in their financial filings, effective management of water risk still lags.
Coyne adds: “The meat industry remains the lowest performing food sector in this regard but it will hit them in the pocket if they continue to pay lip-service to water resource issues linked to climate change.
“Two of the largest meat businesses in the US reported a significant increase in feed costs as a result of the 2017-2018 drought in Argentina. This is not an issue that is going to go away.”