Big Water Users Should Pay Higher Price: Nestle Chairman

People who use more water should pay more for it, according to Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman of Nestle SA, the maker of Perrier bottled water.

“The more you use, the higher the price,” Brabeck-Letmathe said today at a Nestle roundtable about corporate sustainability in Lausanne, Switzerland. “You have to change the scale. For rare resources, the economy of scale is the biggest mistake you can have. The less you use, the less you should be paying. This would be a very simple thing.”

While access to water is a human right, it shouldn’t be a free good and needs to be sold at the right price to avoid misuse, Brabeck-Letmathe has said. He has pointed to the example of Oman, where a 4,500-year-old system of underground water channels provides some water for free to everyone and allows farmers to trade rights over the remainder.

Global grain production might fall 30 percent below the world’s needs by 2030 if the world doesn’t reduce the amount of fresh water it uses, Brabeck-Letmathe wrote on his blog last month. Nestle had revenue from water of about 6.8 billion Swiss francs ($7.1 billion) last year.

Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, has two years to cut its water consumption by 9 percent to meet its target of a 40 percent reduction in 2005 to 2015, after the company’s water intensity per ton rose 1 percent in 2013, Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Gregory Elders and Deborah Aitken wrote in April.

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