Coca-Cola, Campbell’s View Water Efficiency as a Huge Competitive Advantage
Food and beverage manufacturers like Coca-Cola and Campbell Soup Co. use large amounts of water to make their products. Not surprisingly, water efficiency is a core part of their corporate social responsibility goals. How are they doing? And can companies gain a leg up on competitors if the right water management strategy is applied?
Yes, plenty of good can be derived from effective water management based on a recent report by Global Water Intelligence (GWI), called “Water for Food & Beverage: Opportunities in water efficiency and gaining value from wastewater.”
Water Online, a water and wastewater industry publisher, provides a nice breakdown of the report, pointing out that capital expenditure in the water technology market is set to rise to $6 billion over the next seven years. The report includes nearly 40 in-depth interviews with water technology companies and major food and beverage companies, including Coca-Cola. The F&B industry, according to the report, is now an important growth market for water technology companies because it is at the locus of a number of global trends during a time when global water demand is rising against fixed supply:
- Awareness of corporate risk for F&B companies is rising; paying attention to operational and environmental issues is vital to protecting their brand reputations
- As demand for F&B brands increases, so does demand for water technologies to provide safe and dependable water supplies
- Water technologies can now provide value, allowing water stewardship to go hand in hand with profitability. Energy recovery, water efficiency and nutrient recovery ensure that investments will benefit the bottom line.
While the GWI report paints a sobering picture of water demand and management, Coca-Cola thinks it’s doing a pretty darn good job, according to its recent sustainability report. UK paper the Guardian picked up on it, reporting that water usage at Coca-Cola Enterprises has fallen while product production has increased. A new water stewardship commitment is one reason for the improvement. Here’s more from the Guardian:
The commitment is one of seven set out in the company’s new sustainability plan. Water is a vital issue for Coca-Cola and has always been a key focus of its sustainability strategy. Not only is it the main ingredient in the company’s products, water is used for cooling, washing and rinsing at its manufacturing facilities. Clean water and healthy watersheds are also essential for growing the agricultural products it uses. A full lifecycle analysis of the water the bottling company uses showed that 99% of the embedded water footprint of its products is used in its supply chain, 76% of that in the growing and refining of sugar beet.
As a result, Coca-Cola will expand water efficiency beyond its four walls to throughout its entire value chain by protecting water sources, using less water to make its beverages, recycling wastewater and replenishing the water it uses in manufacturing processes.
Like Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup also has a focused eye on its water usage. The company recently released its 2012 corporate social responsibility report, entitled “Nourishing.” Packaging World offers a nice breakdown of the report, which shows that Campbell Soup, indeed, takes water efficiency seriously. Included in the company’s sustainability goals is the reduction of water use by 20 percent and lowering the carbon footprint for its tomatoes and vegetables by 30 percent.
At the end of the day, sustainable best practices like water efficiency are becoming drivers of competitive advantage. According to GreenBiz.com:
Businesses are likely to undertake new environmental practices if their rivals had improved their own environmental performance in the previous year. The reason for this is straightforward: environmental performance is a valuable source of competitive advantage and companies don’t want to fall behind.
Is your company falling behind?