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Report highlights water costs of fruit and vegetables


A new report by the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) highlights the water footprint of fruit and vegetables and warns that imported produce frequently has a very high water cost, with moves to promote plant-based foods such as Veganuary having an impact on water demand.

“We import 42% of our vegetables and a startling 89% of our fruit, predominantly from water stressed countries where we are increasingly dependent on their precious water resources. It stands to reason that if our diets are to stay within planetary boundaries, we need to be scrutinising not just our meat, but these plants as well, said Victoria Balfour of the SFT.

Professor Tim of Cranfield University points out that most imports of fruit and vegetables are from countries including Spain, Morocco, South Africa and Israel that are already water stressed. “If we think of water that is taken out of a river to irrigate citrus in South Africa,” he said. “We are offshoring our footprint and, as one of my colleagues expressed it, ‘We’re importing food and exporting drought’.”

Rebecca Laughton, of the Landworkers Alliance, added, “Importing fresh produce from countries with water shortages makes no sense when we live in a country with abundant water at certain times.”


Caption: Many fruits and vegetables are imported from areas where water availability is already restricted

Photo credit: Needpix