Challenges in dealing with global water resources

Water is an existential necessity for the life of humans, animals and plants alike. Global population growth, the associated increase in water consumption and the rise in droughts due to climate change are reducing water availability, leading to a decline in water quality and reducing biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), agriculture consumes around 70% of the world's fresh water. To reduce our water footprint, we continuously analyse our product ranges for water-intensive products from water-stressed areas.  These analyses are used to derive measures, targets and specific projects in countries with scarce water resources. We also participate in international bodies such as the GLOBALG.A.P. Water Stakeholder Committee to promote global solutions for sustainable water usage.

For more information about our position on water and our commitment to its conservation, see our Policy on water.

Developing standards

  • The SPRING standard for water management: we have cooperated with WWF and GLOBALG.A.P. to develop the SPRING standard for water management. SPRING – the Sustainable Program for Irrigation and Groundwater Use – governs sustainable water usage in agricultural production. SPRING-certified producers must use legal water sources to irrigate their land, continuously document their water usage, and protect local water resources (rivers, lakes and groundwater). Our target for 2026: we consistently implement this standard for water-intensive products from water-critical areas, such as fruits and vegetables as well as flowers and plants.
  • Guideline for irrigation management: jointly with FiBL (the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture) and Bio Suisse we have developed a Guideline for good agricultural irrigation management. This helps farmers and agricultural consultants to improve irrigation methods and achieve sustainable water management.

Our irrigation projects

The SPRING standard for avocados: implementing the SPRING Standard at our avocado suppliers in Chile, Peru and Spain has helped to ensure that around 4 000 hectares of cultivated land are now irrigated sustainably. This corresponds to around 60% of our avocado sales in the retail trade. Drip-feed irrigation systems have been installed to avoid water loss due to evaporation, and soil humidity is measured to ensure that irrigation only takes place when necessary.

Drip-feed irrigation in fruit and vegetable cultivation: in the Agadir region of Morocco, with the support of the Coop Sustainability Fund, we have determined how much water is used in the production of fruits and vegetables for our retail products. That same quantity is now being saved in the region by measures such as rainwater collection containers or drip-feed irrigation systems.

Picture: Optiriego Consulting

Drip-feed irrigation in strawberry cultivation in southern Spain: we source around 60% of the strawberries for our retail products from the Huelva region of southern Spain. In order to reduce the water consumption of the strawberry plantations we have supported our main strawberry suppliers in setting up efficient irrigation systems. Humidity probes measure the water content of the soil and send the data to the producer's mobile phone. Irrigating the strawberries only when needed saves up to 30% of the water used.

Use of micro-irrigation systems

  • We support small farmers and producers in developing more efficient water management.
    Agriculture in Madagascar
  • More than 30,000 rural households in India, Africa and Central America have been equipped with modern small-scale irrigation systems.
    Accessories for a micro-irrigation system
  • The systems can also be used to irrigate small areas from 20 square metres.
    Demonstration of the new irrigation system
  • Small farmers can thus save water and increase productivity.
    Selection of seeds
  • Thanks to the irrigation systems, small farmers can produce fruit and vegetables for the local market in their own gardens.
    Targeted irrigation
  • By selling their products on the local market, farmers have an additional income that contributes to food security.
    Reading once the work is done

Measures to protect water quality

  • To protect water quality in crop cultivation, we apply the "Pesticide Guideline" – with requirements regarding pesticide residues and contaminants more stringent than those prescribed by law – to all suppliers in our entire own-label brand range.
  • Our Naturaline own-label brand specifies additional requirements for the use of chemicals in cotton processing to avoid contaminating waste water in wet finishing. Both waste water and sludge are checked for the use of harmful substances. More about our Detox Commitment.