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SABMiller more beer from less water


Brew beer using less water.


Many parts of the world will face severe water shortages in the near future. This is a serious threat to growth and long-term success for food and beverage manufacturers. As water resources become stretched, manufacturers will face competition, tensions with local communities and increased costs alongside decreasing quality and disruption to normal business. Water is a vital component of beverages and needed to grow feedstocks for food and drink.


As a global brewer, SABMiller has recognised this threat and set itself stretching targets to reduce its water consumption, aiming to cut water use by 25% per hectolitre of beer brewed between 2008 and 2015. To protect the water supplies they rely on they have collaborated with local communities, NGOs, governments, and formed partnerships with other industries to share best practice.

In 2009 SABMiller sought to prove the business case for private sector engagement in promoting the sustainable management of water resources; it joined forces with WWF and German development agency GIZ to form the Water Futures partnership. This partnership has worked with local stakeholders to assess and address the water risks in Peru, South Africa, Tanzania and Ukraine. Recently, the partnership expanded to include Colombia, Honduras, India and the US.

Projects that have resulted from this partnership include:

  • Conservation projects in Peru on the Lima basins rehabilitating the ecosystem
  • Work in Colombia preventing excess sediment entering rivers that feed the water basin in Bogotá to improve the quality of drinking water
  • Culling of alien tree species in South Africa where a water risk assessment of hop farms found that if non-native trees continued to grow unchecked they would reduce surface water to farms by 780,000m3 a year


Improved relationships with local communities
Building resilience towards future supply threats
Reduced and avoided costs

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