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The aim of this study was to calculate the water footprint (WF) of food products deriving from the processing of tomatoes by the Italian company Mutti SpA (Mutti hereafter), a market leader in the production of tomato paste, purée and pulp. Mutti, in collaboration with WWF Italy and the University of Tuscia, carried out the water consumption analysis of its production (the WF from tomato cultivation to the final derived products) and identified scenarios to reduce it. Mutti was one of the first companies in Italy and among the few in the world that has undertaken the WF calculation for its entire production chain, following the WF network methodology (www.waterfootprint.org). The calculation was based on a fine-tuned version of the existing, well-assessed and scientifically sound methodology, which takes into account two production stages (supply chain and operative phase) and all three elements of the WF—green, blue and grey. Mutti’s WF resulted in being approximately 393 m3/t, with the green, blue and grey elements representing 14, 33 and 53 % of the total, respectively. The findings also revealed that the WF of the supply chain covers 98 % of the total, with tomato cultivation playing the predominant role (84 %). Where the three elements are concerned, the grey part represents more than a half of the footprint along the entire supply chain. During the operative phase in the factory, the only contributing element is the blue water (2 %). Potential reductions assuming a higher irrigation efficiency and/or more controlled fertiliser use were also simulated showing that, if uniformly optimising irrigation and fertilisation across farms providing tomatoes to Mutti, the reduction potential could fluctuate between 2.5 and 5 %. These results reinforce the hypothesis that a nearly real-time monitoring of the soil and/or crop conditions is a useful strategy to support a reasonable and realistic commitment to WF reduction.
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- Calculating the Water Footprint of an Agri-Food Company’s Supply Chain: The Mutti Case