Nestle CEO warns water scarcity is biggest threat to food industry

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 26th February 2013

Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke has used his keynote speech at the ‘City Food Lecture’ in the United Kingdom to highlight the threat of water scarcity to the food industry.

Citing figures from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, Bulcke predicted that population growth and an increase in meat consumption would  increase the pressure on water supplies.

Water scarcity, he said, will be the cause of huge food shortages in the next 15 to 20 years. “This is an issue that must be addressed urgently. I am convinced it can be solved. We should give water the right priority, the right value,” Bulcke said.

“More than two thirds of all the world’s fresh water is withdrawn by agriculture, but the physiological need of plants amounts to only half of this amount,” Bulcke said. “This means there is potential to make enormous savings.”

The food industry has to lead the way in sustainable water use, said the Nestle CEO. “A company has to create value for itself but also for society at large, in order to be successful,” he said. “As a company we want to be part of the solution, not the problem.”

The City Food Lecture is given every year in London by a leading figure in the food industry. The speaker is invited to talk about issues that are regarded as most important in shaping the way food is produced, distributed, marketed, sold and consumed.

In Australia, Nestle recently announced plans to obtain its supply of cocoa from sustainable sources.