Euro-Mediterranean Information System on know-how in the Water sector
International portal

News Italy: The water needed for Italians to eat pasta and pizza

Water resources use in agriculture is generally quantified in relation to the harvest. In contrast, this paper takes a consumer perspective by assessing water use in relation to the final consumer product. The paper analyses the water use related to two products that are typical to Italian consumers: pasta and pizza margherita. We use the water footprint concept as a tool to quantify and localise this water use. The water footprint of a product is the volume of freshwater used to produce the product, measured over the various steps of the production chain. We find that the water footprint of dry pasta made in Italy amounts to 1924 l of water per kilogram of pasta. The water footprint of a 725 g pizza margherita is 1216 l of water. The impacts of the water footprints of pasta and pizza depend on the vulnerability of the water systems where the footprints are located. The impact of the water footprint of pasta is most severe in Puglia and Sicily, where groundwater overexploitation for durum wheat irrigation is common. The impact of the water footprint of pizza is more diverse. It is concentrated in the first step of the supply chain of tomato puree and mozzarella, i.e. in the cultivation of tomatoes and the feed crops of dairy cows. The bread wheat used for the pizza base does not have large impacts. The water footprint impact of the tomato puree on the pizza is concentrated in Puglia (groundwater overexploitation and pollution related to tomato cultivation) and Emilia-Romagna (water pollution). The water footprint impact of mozzarella lies mostly in the effects of water use for producing the feed ingredients for the dairy cows. Mozzarella production further poses a potential threat to water quality, mostly in the Po valley, but this problem seems to be properly regulated, although possibly not fully controlled.

Contact information M.M. Aldaya *, A.Y. Hoekstra; Twente Water Centre, University of Twente, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands (Agr. Syst. (2010), doi:10.1016/ j.agsy.2010.03.004) (email:
Phone: +31 53 4894464; fax: +31 53 4895377.
News type Inbrief
File link
File link local Aldaya-Hoekstra-2010.pdf (PDF, 644 Kb)
Source of information - Agricultural Systems Journal
Keyword(s) water footprint, virtual water, Green water, Blue water, Grey water, Groundwater abstraction
Geographical coverage Italy
News date 03/05/2010
Working language(s) ENGLISH