Development and Application of a Water Footprint Metric for Agricultural Products and the Food Industry

  • Bradley Ridoutt
Conference paper


The agriculture and food industries, which account for around 70% of global freshwater withdrawals and are an important source of chemical emissions to freshwater, are central to the issue of addressing global water stress. While water use efficiency is a longstanding and familiar concept, especially where water is a growth limiting factor for agricultural production, LCA-based water footprinting, which includes water use impact assessment, has recently emerged as an important parameter in LCM and the debate about sustainable food systems. This paper summarises recent case study evidence, noting that agriculture is not homogeneous and that it is dangerous to make generalisations about the water footprints of broad categories of food products and production regions. Issues of special significance to the water footprint of agriculture and food products, such as unmeasured flows, seasonal variations and rainwater flows, are discussed.


Life Cycle Assessment Life Cycle Inventory Water Allocation Characterisation Factor Water Footprint 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research OrganisationClaytonAustralia

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