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Title: Water footprint of Italian buffalo mozzarella cheese
Authors: Bernabucci, Umberto 
Giampiero, Grossi
Chiara, Grossi
Francesco, Cesarini
Lacetera, Nicola 
Chiara, Evangelista
Giovanni, Turriziani
Vitali, Andrea 
Issue Date: 2024
This study presents a comprehensive assessment of the Water Footprint (WF) for buffalo mozzarella production
and consumption relative to an area in central Italy with a high concentration of buffalo farms. Using the Water
Footprint Network (WFN) methodology, the consumption of green, blue, and grey water fractions (Wfc)
throughout the supply chain has been examined.
The study encompassed nine buffalo dairy farms, two cheese factories, four retail outlets, and a cohort of 243
consumers, providing a comprehensive overview of the entire process from raw milk production and mozzarella
cheese making to the final stage of home consumption. The results of the study were expressed as litres of water
per kg of consumed buffalo mozzarella cheese. The total WF was 6820 ± 1490 L per kg of mozzarella, with green,
blue, and grey Wfc contributing for 59%, 12%, and 29%, respectively. The green Wfc was predominantly
influenced (88%) by off-farm feed. The blue Wfc was also primarily affected by off-farm feed (61%), followed by
on-farm crop irrigation, buffalos’ drinking water and cheese factory operations. Home consumption had a
negligible impact on the overall WF. The grey Wfc brought to light environmental concerns, primarily due to
nitrate leaching. Although off-farm crops had a remarkable effect on the grey Wfc, the cultivation of on-farm
crops was responsible for 69% of this fraction. In particular, a significant part of the grey Wfc originated from
on-farm areas left fallow for parts of the year, leading to no uptake of residual nitrogen by crops.
Adhering to WFN guidelines, this research not only expands knowledge on the WF of buffalo mozzarella, but
also highlights critical water hotspots. It underscores the necessity for dairy farmers to refine irrigation and soil
management, incorporating precise irrigation and crop rotation strategies, to mitigate the impacts on Wfc
ISSN: 2666-1543
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Appears in Collections:A1. Articolo in rivista

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