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VIRTUAL WATER OF PRODUCTS

The Virtual Water of a product is the volume of freshwater used to


produce the product, measured at the place where the product
was actually produced. This concept, invented by world water
expert Tony Allan, refers to the sum of the water used in the
various steps of the production chain. The Virtual Water of a pro-
duct is the same as what is called its Water Footprint. The diagram
compares the average height of a man with the size of the sphere
containing the volume of water required to produce one kilo of
each product. The numbers provided are estimated global averages.

Aver. Height 1,75 mt

Sphere Diameter 3·16 mt

Sphere Diameter 2·76 mt


Sphere Diameter 3·42 mt

Sphere Diameter 3·1 mt


Average Height 1·75 mt

SCALE 1:25 COFFEE 21,000 litres per kilo LEATHER 16,600 litres per kilo BEEF 15,500 litres per kilo COTTON 11,000 litres per kilo
Sphere Diameter 2·268 mt

Sphere Diameter 1·952 mt


Sphere Diameter 1·968 mt
Sphere Diameter 2·09 mt

Sphere Diameter 1·66 mt


Sphere Diameter 1·98 mt
Sphere Diameter 2·12 mt

SHEEP 6,100 litres per kilo CHEESE 5,000 litres per kilo PORK 4,800 litres per kilo HORSE 4,100 litres per kilo GOAT 4,000 litres per kilo CHICKEN 3,900 litres per kilo TEA LEAVES 2,400 litres per kilo
Sphere Diameter 1·364 mt

Sphere Diameter 1·336 mt


Sphere Diameter 1·354 mt

Sphere Diameter 1·354 mt


Sphere Diameter 1·509 mt

Sphere Diameter 1·102 mt


Sphere Diameter 1·198 mt
Sphere Diameter 1·24 mt
SOYBEANS 1,800 litres per kilo BREAD 1,330 litres per kilo WHEAT 1,300 litres per kilo BARLEY 1,300 litres per kilo PAPER 1,250 litres per kilo MILK 1,000 litres per kilo MAIZE 900 litres per kilo APPLE 700 litres per kilo

Consider the water footprint of beef. In an industrial beef produc-


tion system, it takes on average three years before the animal is
slaughtered to produce about 200 kg of boneless beef. The animal
consumes nearly 1,300 kg of grains (wheat, oats, barley, corn, dry
peas, soybean meal and other small grains), 7,200 kg of roughages
(pasture, dry hay, silage and other roughages), 24 cubic meters of
water for drinking and 7 cubic meters of water for servicing. This
means that to produce one kilogram of boneless beef, we use
about 6·5 kg of grain, 36 kg of roughages and 155 litres of water 1 WATER FOR GRAINS 2 WATER FOR ROUGHAGES 3 WATER FOR DRINKING 4 WATER FOR SERVICING WATER FOOTPRINT 3,100,000 LITRES
(only for drinking and servicing). Producing the volume of feed In order to calculate the water footprint of In order to calculate the water footprint of The animal needs nearly 24 cubic meters of The animal needs nearly 7 cubic meters of It takes on average three years before the
requires about 15,300 litres of water on average. The water foot- beef we have to take into account the water beef we have to take into account the water water for drinking before it is slaughtered. water for drinking before it is slaughtered. animal is slaughtered to produce about 200
print of one kilo of beef thus adds up to 15,500 litres of water. This used to produce grains consumed by the used to produce roughages consumed by kg of boneless beef. If water footprint of 200
still excludes the volume of polluted water that may result from animal (1,300 Kg before it is slaughtered). the animal (7,200 before it is slaughtered). kilograms of boneless beef is on average
leaching of fertilisers in the feed crop field or from surplus 3,100,000 litres, the water footprint of beef
manure reaching the water system. The numbers provided are per kilo is nearly 15,500 litres.
estimated global averages; the water footprint of beef will strongly
vary depending on the production region, feed composition and
origin of the feed ingredients (A Y Hoekstra).