The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) is urging coordinated action to reduce the amount of hidden water used in food and drink production - estimated at up to 1.8 million litres per person every year equivalent to an Olympic size swimming pool.
Each person consumes between 2,000-5,000 litres of water embedded in their food, every day - or between 730,000-1,825,000 million litres annually.
Currently, around 90 per cent of all freshwater is used by agriculture (70 per cent) and industry (20 per cent), leaving just 10 per cent for domestic use.
However, as the population grows and more people move to a western-style diet, water extraction is estimated to increase by over 50 per cent to 6,900 billion m3 per year.
By 2050, the overall impact will see around two thirds of the world's population living in 'water scare' areas, compared to just seven per cent at present.
Andy Furlong, IChemE director of policy, said: "Chemical engineers provide many of the high level skills needed to provide the water, food, medicines and energy to sustain our ever-growing population.
"In recent years and decades, we have seen how difficult it has been to agree and set targets to manage issues like climate change.
"Population growth will throw up similar challenges and will have a direct impact on two of the building blocks for life - food and water.
"Estimates suggest that we will need to produce 60 per cent more food by 2050. Agriculture will need around 19 per cent more water to produce that extra food.
"It is clear that current production methods are unsustainable and there are genuine risks of food shortages, rising food prices, droughts and social unrest for future generations unless we make more efficient use of water."
Read the full ENN article here.