In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we’re talking about chocolate—the culinary language of love. Every year Americans purchase approximately 58 million pounds of chocolate for the holiday. When it comes to Valentine’s Day, companies like American Water—that is, those who pursue initiatives and collaborations to make sure ample supplies of water are available for everything from irrigating cocoa trees to supplying factories—take on a rather significant role “playing Cupid.” By supporting the “big picture” of water availability and quality, we help ensure that, come February 14, every chocolate heart, bar and dipped strawberry hit their romantic mark!
Now, I’m sure that when most people bite into a decadent chocolate-covered cherry or let a chocolate bar melt in their mouth, the furthest thing from their minds is the vast amount of water required to provide that tasty experience. But, believe me, there is a lot more water than meets the eye—or should I say, the taste buds—required to fuel chocolate production.
First, let’s look at chocolate’s water footprint. To produce those 58 million pounds of Valentine’s Day chocolate (from growing the cocoa beans to chocolate manufacturing) requires approximately 120,000,000,000 gallons of water! That’s just for a few days out of the year—annually Americans consume about 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate. To put the chocolate-water footprint in a more “bite-size” perspective, the average 3.5-oz. chocolate bar requires 450 gallons of water.
But this in and of itself isn’t the only role in which water plays a part when it comes to satisfying your chocolate cravings. Consider a few of the many aspects of a chocolate manufacturer’s daily operation that depend on water:
- Cleaning equipment: Water is required every day to keep manufacturing equipment clean and in good working order
- Employees: The “big players” in the chocolate industry employ tens-of-thousands of people. That’s a lot of people who, in the course of a work shift need water to drink, make coffee with, wash up with, flush and more.
- Headquarters operation: Water is also needed for everyday maintenance such as keeping offices, restrooms, cafeterias and employee areas clean and safe.
Lastly, consider the other “water factors” that come into play with your Valentine’s gift. These include everything from the production of foil wrappers, paper wrappers and boxes (from growing the trees to production) to the fuel used for shipping chocolate products to distribution centers then, eventually to your local supermarket. Let’s not forget the water-energy nexus we discuss every so often—it goes without saying how much energy is required to turn a few cocoa beans into the gift that will make your sweetheart swoon.
You can take a closer look at the role water plays in the production of chocolate by watching this video from Pennsylvania America Water highlighting the importance of water to our customer Sarris Candies in Canonsburg, PA.
It’s hard to imagine so much water going into that one little bite of chocolate isn’t it? Before popping that last bite into your mouth feel the love—for water!