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🗣️ "Beverage Competitors As Water Collaborators"


Photo by Shayna Douglas / Unsplash

Host: Travis Loop
Guests: Nick Martin | Executive Director | Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) &
Andre Fourie | Global Director of Water Sustainability | AB InBev
Category: 🗣️ Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:15] NM: “Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable […] is a coalition of the leading global beverage companies. We've got 15 companies at the moment, […] distilled spirits, breweries, soft drinks, bottled water, and most beverage categories, came together just strictly on environmental sustainability is the topic and the focus, with water being kind of the thing that brought us together back in 2006.”

[3:31] NM: “Water obviously, is fundamental the products for one, but there was a feeling that it was growing and a lot of attention, especially in certain geographies throughout the world. And this group came together because they knew it was more than just water efficiency. There were many more elements to it, [...] from […] the engineering side, the physical side, but also the regulatory side, and then the social side, because water is fundamental to everybody's life. […] The majority of these companies are agricultural based companies. So if you talk with them, you understand that a lot of this is just inherent in what they've always done.”

[6:10] AF: “Water efficiency in the strict sense is how many liters of water you use per liter of product that you produce. So many years ago, it was quite common in the beverage or in the beer industry that people would be using maybe five liters of water to make a liter of beer. That has gone down dramatically. For in the case of AB InBev, we currently are at 2.7 liters of water to make one liter of beer. […] So that’s [due to] […] better equipment, […] making sure that you don't waste water, but also increasingly being smart in reusing water. […] So by doing that in a high risk location, you reduce the demand of water on the local authority and increase the amount of water that's available for other water users.”

[8:42] AF: “Water is no longer what we used to think, something that we manage and pay for, and are responsible for using and discharging. But it's something that we share with others. And it's not just the resource that we share, and also the risk. The people around us perceive us as water users, they would like us […] to be stewards of the water, but not us of the water that we use, but of the watersheds. So what is the source of the water? Where does it come from? And investing in shed security makes a great deal of sense in terms of building up your reputation locally, but also your ability to continue to operate uninterrupted and with reasonable price and access to clean water.”

[16:51] NM: “I was kind of nervous with all the focus on climate change, and obviously, climate related disclosures, that it would shift too much attention away from water. And I know, there's a lot of people in the water space that are also concerned about that. But I've actually seen it kind of be a little bit of a blessing. Because, historically, a lot of the water stewardship work and water leadership was around scarcity. […] And I think, partly because of the climate focus, it's expanded […] to look at where […] you have too much water or the water quality aspects. It's brought in some of those different perspectives, which […] are critical, because in the majority of watersheds, if not all, you've got more than one challenge at play. And it's kind of understanding that dynamic between all of it. […] You can have locations, or you can have significant droughts, and floods all within the same year. And that's something that you have to be able to figure out and manage as a company.”

[19:35] NM: “I think the investor customer conversation and relationships continue to evolve. I think there's a mutual appreciation for how important it is. But on the consumer side, it's a different story. There's still a bit of that disconnect between I want to drink this beverage or eat this food product or snack versus what are the impacts of […] the companies [or] the brands that I'm supporting? I think that awareness is building, but there still is that disconnect. And I feel like consumers play a huge role in this, not just in food and beverage, but any consumer product category.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 33 min | 🗓️ 08/01/2021
✅ Time saved: 31 min

Additional Links:
AB InBev Water Stewardship