Blue water footprint management in a UK poultry supply chain under environmental regulatory constraints

14 May 2018

Chicken is the most consumed meat in the UK, accounting for 40% of meat consumption, while national production sufficiency reaches about 80%. As a farm animal product, chicken meat is responsible for significant freshwater appropriation volumes during its production cycle. In this context, this research aims at exploring freshwater dynamics in the UK processed poultry industry. Specifically, we develop a System Dynamics model to capture the blue water footprint, as key sustainability performance indicator of a poultry supply chain, in case relevant environmental and regulatory constraints are applied. The model contributes towards investigating the impact of two potential policy-making scenarios, namely the "water penalty" and the "water tax", on the nexus between profitability and water usage across the poultry supply chain. Responding to the regulatory constraints, the food processor either reconfigures the supply chain through rethinking desired inventory levels or implements a water management intervention. The results indicate that investing in water-friendly production technologies could offer a greater advantage to sustainable supply chains in terms of blue water efficiency and profitability compared to employing inventory management strategies. Overall, our analysis highlights that effective policy-making and technology-driven interventions could provide potential towards ensuring economic growth and environmental sustainability of the UK poultry sector.