Technology manufacturers in the water sector should have their eyes on the food and beverage industry.
This sector represents "an important growth market for water technology companies," according to a report by the research firm Global Water Intelligence. The report surveyed companies including Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Carlsberg.
So, how important are food companies to the water sector? This industry "will increase capital expenditure on water technology from $3.3 billion in 2011 to $6.0 billion in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate of 6.7 percent," the report said.
The spending increase will come in large part from China, India, and Brazil, which will grow their expenditures "at double digit rates," the report said. As demand for food and beverage brands rises, "so does demand for water technologies to provide safe and dependable water supplies," the report said.
Companies will invest in technology geared toward energy recovery, water efficiency, and nutrient recovery to protect the bottom line, the report said.
There are risk factors, as well. For instance, the idea of manufacturing universal technology to fit all food and beverage plants may be unrealistic.
"The report warns that even within the food and beverage sector the plant locations, processing steps, ingredients and final consumables vary significantly between subsectors (meat, dairy, soft drinks, etc) and consequently, the water and wastewater needs will differ at the plant level, making universal adoption of technologies less straightforward," the report said.
A research paper by the consulting firm Frost & Sullivan made many of the same points last year. For the food and beverage industry, "demand for sustainable water management has never been so high," the report said.
"Food and beverage manufacturers continue to seek for efficiency savings and demonstrate green credentials by implementing sustainable water management practices in their production cycles. This approach usually involves environmental economic and social responsibility," it said.
In late February, the poverty non-profit Oxfam released assessments of how the food and beverage industry is handling water issues in developing countries.
"Jochnick said General Mills had lost ground due to a lower score for transparency as it was not publishing as much information as before on its water policies," Reuters reported.
Image credit: "Winco," © 2006 danorth1, used under an Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en
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