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Update to the Water Metric
Update to the Water Metric

An improvement to the HowGood water metric to focus on Blue Water usage - what it is, why the change, and how it will affect impact scores

Jemima Snow avatar
Written by Jemima Snow
Updated over a week ago

Release Date: Wednesday, August 10th

What’s the update?

We’re updating how we assess a product’s water footprint on the environment. The current Water Usage metric is a measure of the total on-farm water required to grow the ingredients in a product. We are now shifting to the Blue Water Usage metric, which is a better measure of a product’s environmental impact on global water resources.

What is Blue Water Usage?

Blue Water Usage is a measure of the amount of blue water (ie. surface and groundwater resources) required to grow the ingredients in a product. The Blue Water Usage metric also takes into account the blue water scarcity in the regions where the ingredients are grown.

Why are we shifting to Blue Water Usage?

While the Water Usage and Blue Water Usage metrics both quantify the amount of water required to produce 1 kilogram of product, Blue Water Usage is more directly related to water resources that are at risk. Because there is increasing global demand for a limited supply of freshwater resources, the conservation of blue water is imperative to maintaining a healthy global water system.

By focusing on global freshwater resources, the Blue Water Usage metric is a more direct indicator of the impact a product has on the water system in its respective regions. Blue water needs can impact the overall water quality in that region, potentially causing erosion and contamination and restricting the flow of local water systems. As a result, food companies have more control over reducing their water footprint by focusing on blue water impact.

How will impact scores be affected?

The Blue Water Usage metric is a more rigorous measure of a product’s environmental impact on water. Therefore, products will generally score lower for Blue Water Usage than for the current Water Usage metric.

This means that you may see a drop in the overall HowGood Impact Score for your products. However, it’s important to note that all food products are similarly affected, and the industry average for the HowGood Impact Score has decreased by 6 points, as a result of the update.

Which products will be most affected by the update?

Products or ingredients produced from crops that require significant blue water resources and are grown in locations with high blue water scarcity will have the lowest score for blue water impact, and thus their HowGood Impact Scores will be most affected. For example, almonds grown in California will score poorly for blue water usage.

You can take a look at the sales categories that are most affected below. This means that you can likely expect products in these categories to experience a 8+ point reduction in their HowGood Impact Score.


Fruit Spreads and Jams

Cookies and Snack Bars


Bread and Baked Goods

Other Desserts, Frozen

Baking Mix, Ingredients and Flour

Cold Cereals

Likewise, products in the following sales categories have been the least affected, with an average score drop of 3 points or less.



Eggs, Cold Case


Meat and Poultry - Shelf Stable

Plant Based Meat Alternatives, Frozen

Jerky and Meat Snacks

Oils and Vinegars

Seafood - Stable

Milk, Cold Case


Plant Based Meat Alternatives, Cold Case

Creams and Creamers, Cold Case


Plant Based Cheese

Plant Based Dairy Alternatives

Coffee and Hot Cocoa

Tofu, Cold Case

What is HowGood’s approach to research and metric updates?

HowGood is dedicated to not only employing the most widely-accepted methodologies in the industry but also ensuring that the latest scientific research is incorporated. HowGood draws on a variety of accredited data sources, keeps track of any updates to scientific research, and periodically reevaluates how sustainability metrics and impact are measured. Metrics and impact assessments are updated accordingly, on an ongoing basis, making HowGood’s platform the leading-edge tool for product sustainability. In turn, HowGood is able to provide impact assessments that are always accurate, comprehensive, and the most up-to-date.

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