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Retailers should respond to consumer concerns about water management in farming by considering water footprint labels for food products, according to FoodWorks.co.nz.

The report quoted scientist Dr Brent Clothier who is a soil scientist telling the Australian Society of Agronomy Conference on “Food Security from Sustainable Agriculture” held at Lincoln University this week saying: “There has been some success with driving down energy usage through the energy star rating. Similarly, I believe the introduction of water footprint labels for food products will increase consumer awareness and encourage the purchase and thus the production of more water efficient products.”

Clothier is Science Group Leader, Sustainable Production at the New Zealand Institute of Plant & Food Research and Adjunct Professor, School of Earth & Environment, University of Western Australia.

He said agriculture is by far the largest user of fresh water in both Australia and New Zealand. In both countries the great challenge is to use less water resources in irrigation.

Dr Clothier noted that while the Australian water debate focuses on issues related to the Murray Darling Basin, the issues internationally are not that different, even in ‘water-rich’ New Zealand.

“There are growing pressures as a result of the fact that irrigated agriculture consumes about three-quarters of the world’s fresh water taken for human use.”

“Increased regulation, better productivity on farm and consumer pressure for products that use less water will bring about more sustainable use of water on farms.”

Dr Clothier suggested that because of these concerns, retailers and supermarkets (aided and abetted by NGOs) are looking at the introduction of water foot-printing protocols to meet growing concerns about the use of water in food and fibre production, and to secure their own place as better providers of sustainable products.”

For more, go to FoodWorks.co.nz

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