Planet-friendly tomatoes

Posted on 16 November 2012

WWF is helping Mutti, a leading producer of tomato products, calculate and reduce its water footprint – from field to factory. 
Pasta with tomato sauce – for many it’s the taste of home, and the epitome of comfort food. Did you know that this worldwide favorite has a water footprint? Everything we eat does. And it’s not just the water we use to cook in our home kitchens. It’s the water used to grow the ingredients in the pasta and sauce we savor.

WWF has helped Mutti, market leader in the production of tomato purée, pressed tomatoes and tomato pulp, calculate the water footprint of its production, from tomato cultivation to finished product. Mutti is the first Italian company, and one of the few in the world, to undertake such a study.

“The world population has reached 7 billion, and our consumption habits are not sustainable,” says Gianfranco Bologna, scientific director of WWF-Italy. “This is why WWF supports individual, institutional and business efforts to significantly reduce our footprint on natural systems. We are working to transform the markets, to minimize the impact of the products we enjoy and depend on.”

The calculation of water footprint for the whole production cycle considered the quantity of water contained in each Mutti product. The water footprint analysis has led Mutti to commit to reduce its water footprint by 3 per cent by 2015.

Given that 83 per cent of Mutti’s water footprint comes from the cultivation of tomatoes, the company is focusing most of its attention on its producers, with a campaign of awareness and support to improve efficiency of water use in cultivation.

This year, thanks to the partnership with the WWF, 20 Mutti suppliers located throughout the Emilia Romagna region have tried an innovative method of irrigation management to limit of the use of water to volumes that are strictly necessary.

A team of experts using probes and sensors to measure soil humidity has been able to quantify the minimum effective volume of irrigation water, thus guiding farmers toward an optimal use of resources. A water-savings of up to 30 per cent was shown in “guided” agricultural enterprises, compared with those “not guided”. With the right guidelines, producers can easily analyze their own cultivation and irrigation practices to better manage water resources.

“The water saving of 30 per cent as a result of simply optimizing field irrigation represents an important step toward achieving the ambitious objective, agreed upon in collaboration with WWF, of reducing the water footprint by 2015 throughout the Mutti business network, from the cultivation of tomatoes to the final product,” said Francesco Mutti.

As part of its annual Pomodorino d’Oro award for production of exceptional tomatoes, Mutti has introduced the Special Mention “Ideas for Water”, to be given to farmers who are demonstrating innovation and commitment to sustainable cultivation.

“Mutti is part of the vanguard of companies using water footprint as a tool to measure impact and set challenging reduction targets,” said Stuart Orr, Freshwater Manager at WWF International. “It is an innovative project that has identified efficient solutions and shown how the agricultural sector can reduce its environmental impacts.”
Mutti, a leading producer of tomato products, is working to improve water efficiency and get the most crop from every drop.
© WWF-Italy