Water Footprint & Greater Sustainability

F&B Industry Focuses on Water Footprint & Greater Sustainability

With intensification of the global population trends and rising water scarcity, food and beverage (F&B) industry is forced to reassess its water management and tap into modern treatment solutions. The global food and beverage water and wastewater treatment and services market is expected to remain a fast-growing, future-oriented market, remaining extremely positive towards innovations and technological upgrades related to sustainable water management. Advanced water treatment solutions for closed loop systems are rising in importance and translate into reduced operational costs of production and mitigate increasing water prices. Additionally rising pressure to deal with environmental legislation is expected to drive demand for all services related to water and wastewater treatment.

High demand for sustainable water management

Food and beverage manufacturers continue to seek for efficiency savings and demonstrate green credentials by implementing sustainable water management practices in their production cycles. This approach usually involves environmental economic and social responsibility. In scope of environmental responsibility, the companies employ solutions to ensure accordance with treatment regulations, reduce usage of toxic chemicals and limit generation and discharge of wastewater streams. In terms of economic responsibility, the key approach involves reduction of water consumption and optimization of energy consumption with an increased focus on water and energy reuse and recycling. In case of social responsibility there is an increasing focus on eco-friendly products with limited water footprint, including health claims and water footprint on food labels as well as switch towards organic farming with lesser pesticides polluting water bodies. Manufacturers also focus to guarantee high standards and safety of food and beverage products as well as minimizing pollution during production processes. In order to guarantee sustainable water use in food and beverage production, water and wastewater treatment companies offer wide range of technologies and solutions to meet ever changing needs of its end-users. Technologies related with water treatment solutions are required to be compliant with strict purification standards and guarantee ultra-pure process water, free from potential bacteria and viruses that might get in contact with food and beverage products. This has resulted in a trend linked to replacement of media filters with membranes as well as application of advanced chemical-free disinfection such as UV light and ozone. Wastewater treatment technologies guarantee safe environmental discharge and reduce the amount of wastewater by its reuse and recycling, enabling implementation of closed-loop systems. Additionally, there are growing opportunities for niche technology suppliers as industrial manufacturers are more open to innovative technologies, such as byproduct recovery and polymer extraction for bio-plastics production from food and beverage wastewater streams. Water-integrated technologies for footprint reduction include overall optimization of water, energy and chemicals consumption, bringing both environmental and social benefits, along with operational savings. Growing penetration of cutting-edge technologies for sludge treatment results in reduced sludge volumes and facilitates its use in biogas generation facilities.

“… there is an increasing focus on eco-friendly products”

Water efficiency on the rise

Many food and beverage industrial groups such as dairy and beverages have already incorporated practices into their water cycles that have resulted in significant reduction of operational costs, improvement in quality of the final products as well as improvement of their brand perception among the clients. Global food and beverage corporations have taken up water conservation as a priority, set tangible targets and are strive to be on track with improving water use ratios and wastewater discharge levels. In 2011 the Coca-Cola Company eliminated USD500 million in operating expenses by applying water efficient solutions and has new goals set for 2020 (The Coca Cola Company, Sustainability Report). On the same note, Diageo, the world’s premium drinks business, wants to reduce wastewater discharge by 50 percent. Looking at these examples, we can definitely expect other food and beverage companies to follow this trend in order to set new benchmarks and also to stay ahead of the competition. We can expect significant demand for innovative and advanced treatment solutions in the years ahead, increasing investments into water- related infrastructure, especially in market hot-spots such as rapidly expanding Asian countries and North American and European countries moving towards operational savings, as well as implementation of sustainable solutions to secure green credentials and improve brand reputation.

Growth potential of F&B water business

The forecast predicts strong growth in application of advanced treatment solutions, especially membranes, in both water and wastewater treatment and this is expected to translate in reduced operational costs of production and mitigation of intensified water challenges. Strong factor towards growth in all services related to water and wastewater treatment is a rising pressure to deal with stricter environmental legislation. Market opportunities for design and engineering as well as operation and maintenance are likely to grow as industrial customers increasingly turn to water specialists to outsource their water services with the overall objective of increasing overall operational efficiency. Among the treatment technologies, membrane separation has the highest growth potential in the food and beverage industry and this technology is expected to experience the highest growth rate in the coming years, followed by the advanced disinfection technologies. With the switch from chlorine to greener alternatives, ultraviolet and ozone treatment are expected to be the key water disinfection technologies for the years to come. In the case of wastewater treatment, secondary, tertiary and advanced treatment are the key growing segments, with wider application of sludge treatment and membrane bioreactors.

“… membrane separation has the highest growth potential”

Advanced water & wastewater treatment solution providers

There are a variety of opportunities for wide selection of water and wastewater treatment technologies and solutions by food and beverage manufacturers. The global food and beverage water and wastewater treatment market is highly competitive with large number of technology and service providers. The market is led by Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), such as Pentair, Siemens Water, GE Water Technologies, Trojan UV, Degremont, EnviroChemie, Koch Membrane Systems, Alfa Laval, and Pall Corporation, turnkey plant and O&M service providers such as Veolia Water, Ondeo Industrial Solutions and Ovivo. There is a progressing trend of consolidation among market participants resulting from acquisitions, penetration of new geographies, increasing product and service range as well as entering into strategic alliances with local partners. Despite high competition, the market is expected to remain open for innovative technology providers and companies serving niche sectors, such as Paques with the anaerobic solution, Epuramat with the packaged solutions and Clearfleau with its energy generation from wastewater solution. The importance to guarantee operational savings and attractive pay-back periods, backed with sustainable water technologies and high quality water purification, remains the key selection factors of solution providers. Expertise in innovative services such as energy recovery, water reuse and byproduct recovery are also seen as important aspects for end-users.

Paulina Szyplinska
Industry Analyst for Environment (Water) Markets
Frost & Sullivan International