No water, no beer: brewers race to save the ales

Industry Tags: Food & Beverage

As water becomes increasingly scarce on our ever more crowded and warming planet, brewers of beer are racing to secure a steady supply of their most prized ingredient by using less of it.

"Without water, there is no beer," Kim Marotta, the sustainability director for MillerCoors, the Chicago-based joint venture of international brewing giants SABMiller and Molson Coors, told NBC News.

Like many in the brewing industry, MillerCoors understands that access to water of the quantity and quality it needs to grow barley and hops and brew beer is no longer a guarantee as population growth, water pollution and climate change threaten water resources.

The United Nations projects that by 2030 nearly half of the world's population could face a scarcity of water, with demand outstripping supply by 40 percent.

MillerCoors is one of several dozen corporate heavyweights that endorse the United Nations' CEO Water Mandate, a public-private initiative to assist companies in the development, implementation and disclosure of water sustainability practices.

"We need to make sure that in the places where we have breweries or the places that we are growing our barley, that water is available so that we can have a sustainable business well into the future," Marotta said.

Similar water conservation efforts are underway at other breweries that endorse the United Nations' mandate, including Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer by volume whose brands include Budweiser and Stella Artois, and Diageo, the brewer of Guinness.

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