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By 2025, around 1.8 billion people will live in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity. Because the agricultural sector accounts for around 70 percent of all freshwater use, it must play a significant part in protecting and preserving water quality and quantity. Promoting water stewardship is a heavy lift that requires shifting the way agriculture has traditionally been run, but some food companies are building partnerships and setting goals to ensure there is enough water for both their operations and the communities they serve.
Behind many of these connections is the AgWater Challenge, launched by Ceres and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2016 to facilitate partnerships between food and beverage companies and their stakeholders. The Challenge has already bred dozens of multi-stakeholder collaborations, helping companies, suppliers, and communities set measurable and achievable goals to reduce their water demand and improve sustainability in the agricultural supply chain. Hormel Foods, a founding member of the AgWater Challenge, is one company that’s upping its goals and expanding what it means to be a water steward while mitigating its own risk.