A total of 65 supporters, including major UK food manufacturers and retailers, have committed to supporting WRAP’s Water Roadmap.

Companies who have voiced support for the roadmap include Asda, Co-op, Coca Cola GB, M&S, Nestlé UK & Ireland, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. As part of the project, participating companies are encouraged to make structural changes to their supply chains that incorporate, amongst others, the following targets:

  • To monitor water use in its operations and improve efficiency
  • To identify water risk hotspots in its supply chain – e.g. starting with high volume or high risk items like fresh produce, using the WWF Water Risk Filter or similar tools
  • To identify suppliers operating in “high water stress” areas and encourage them to engage with water stewardship initiatives in their local catchment.

Co-ordinated by WRAP, the Water Roadmap builds on the Courtauld Commitment Water Ambition to deliver “even more ambitious changes” across the food system in support of the new Courtauld Commitment 2030 target and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Launched in July 2021, WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment 2030 set the following targets for water usage and consumption:

  • The UK food and drink industry will have helped to attain sustainable water management to improve the quality and availability of water at catchment scale in the top 20 most important product and ingredient sourcing areas in the UK and overseas
  • By 2030, the target is for 50% of the UK’s fresh food to be sourced from areas with sustainable water management.

According to WRAP, when combined, these targets will contribute directly towards achieving UN SDG six. The company emphasised that, in order to meet the targets, action is needed from UK food and drink businesses that rely on the availability of clean water in their operations or supply chains.

“A practical mechanism”

Karen Fisher, head of Climate Action Strategy at WRAP, said: “Given the necessity of water to produce our food and drink and the scale of water use for food production globally, it is vital that as an industry we set a goal for action. The Water Roadmap provides a practical mechanism for food and drink businesses to know what actions they can most meaningfully take to help achieve this goal. I urge other organisations to join those that have already given their commitment to help protect this critical resource.”

“Direct, collaborative action”

Andy Griffiths, head of value chain sustainability, Nestlé UK & Ireland, said: “Water is a shared and precious resource, which is essential for life. Communities need water to survive and thrive and businesses also depends on water. Effective stewardship of our watercourses not only helps address the challenges we face in terms of biodiversity loss and the impact of climate change, but it helps increase the resilience of our food supply chain.

“We need to take direct, collaborative action so we can achieve the pace and scale of change needed to protect our water supply.  This Water Roadmap provides a blueprint for organisations to do just that.”

“An opportunity to demonstrate leadership”

Alice Ritchie, sustainable agriculture manager, Tesco, said: “As we become increasingly aware of the pressure placed on our water resources around the world, UK retailers have an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and ensure we are prioritising and protecting these precious habitats. The Water Roadmap provides us with the blueprint for collaborative engagement to ensure we meet our ambitious targets and that they translate to action on the ground across the entire food and drink supply chain.”