EconomyFinancialThe beer and soft drink industry will 'review' its...

The beer and soft drink industry will 'review' its water consumption habits

While the first rains of the season are present in Monterrey, companies adjust their business models to face a water crisis that does not end in the city and could even be repeated in a few years.

Companies have used different strategies to save water. An example is craft breweries, which .

Guillermo Dillon, who chairs the Chamber of the Transformation Industry (Caintra) of Nuevo León, assures that the companies that operate in the entity have implemented, of their own volition, efficiencies in the use of the liquid, given that there is no regulation for the use and saving of water resources.

“Of course we have to review our consumption habits and we have to invest in water infrastructure,” Dillon acknowledged in an interview in early August.

For now, the risks of investment leaks seem to dissipate, the same as the accusations that have come out of the National Palace against the breweries and soft drinks for the intensive use of water in their processes.

Investments at sight

Heineken and Arca Continental, which have plants in Monterrey, have ruled out leaving the city and moving their operations to another entity. On the contrary, the bet is to invest to improve operations.

The brewing group, owner of brands such as Tecate and Indio, has as part of its objectives to achieve neutrality in the use of water by 2030, which will require a transformation in the seven plants that the company has in Mexico, including the one located In Monterrey.

To achieve neutrality in the use of water, the company has promised that its plants will return to the environment all or more of the water used during its production processes, such as the washing of returnable beer containers. Some of the factories already have water infiltrating wells, including the one in the northern city.

Heineken has not revealed the amount of the investments for this plan, nor is the amount destined for the modernization of the Monterrey plant, where they produce 3.9 million cans of beer under the Carta Blanca, Tecate and Indio brands, known.

“Monterrey is a reference in the execution of projects in water reduction, for example, in optimization of reverse osmosis recovery, vacuum systems with mechanical seal, optimization of water used in cleaning and rinsing and it complies with 100% treatment in its wastewater,” Heineken said in an email.

In this factory, 2.1 liters of water are used to produce each liter of beer, when in other factories of the company, such as the one in Toluca, 2.6 liters are used. However, in both cases it is lower than the average of four liters of water per liter of beer in the world, according to company data.

Arca Continental, the second Coca-Cola bottler in Latin America, will also maintain its investments in the plant it has in the city. At the beginning of the second quarter of the year, the company reported that it will invest 6,000 million pesos, without detailing the expense items.

“Like every year, the design of this was based on an extensive multifactorial analysis allocating budget, among other issues, to projects of efficiency and sustainability. With this, the company endorses its intention to continue investing in the territories where it operates,” said Arca Continental in an email in response to whether they consider investing in Monterrey a risk.

The Coca-Cola bottler explained that it treats 100% of its water discharges, in addition to registering a reduction of around 24% of the water footprint in the production of its beverages in the last 10 years.

On average, the company uses 1.56 liters of direct water in production for each liter of finished product, a 30% reduction compared to the amount of water required 15 years ago to manufacture a liter of beverage.

“In Monterrey we have one of the most efficient plants, with 1.30 liters of water per liter of product and by 2025 we have the goal of using 1.41 liters as a Coca-Cola system in Mexico,” he added in the email.

The volumes assigned in concession for the entire industry in the State of Nuevo León represent 4% of the total available water, below 25% of the public supply in homes, and 71% used by the agricultural sector.

Beyond Monterey

Monterrey is not the only city that has an alert due to lack of water. Other regions of cities such as Baja California, Coahuila and Sonora also face drought risks, according to monitoring by the National Water Commission (Conagua).

Fábio Baracho, vice president of marketing for Grupo Modelo, owner of Corona beer and which has large-scale industrial plants in Torreón, Mexico City, Guadalajara, Tuxtepec, Mazatlán, Hunucmá and Zacatecas, told Expansión that they have 25 different initiatives related to water management, ranging from a more conscious use in the field to breweries to returning water to the population.

“We were among the first companies to invest in other regions, so the breweries that we have built in Mexico in recent years are all from the center down, where there is no water problem and where we have conditions, not only to use water, but to return it to the people. Historically, Grupo Modelo has worked on this as part of its business strategy”, said Baracho.

The manager said that they have various indicators on water efficiency, however, they do not have data on how many liters of water are used to produce a liter of beer, since this depends on the ingredients and even the region where it is manufactured.

“We don’t like to talk about that number because there is no indicator that can unify beer production,” he concluded.

With information from Nancy Malacara.

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