Abstract. It is widely recognized that food consumption
patterns significantly impact water requirements. The aim
of this paper is to quantify how food consumption patterns
influence water requirements in China. The findings show
that per capita water requirement for food (CWRF) has increased
from 255m3 cap−1y−1 in 1961 to 860m3 cap−1 y−1
in 2003, largely due to an increase in the consumption of
animal products in recent decades. Although steadily increasing,
the CWRF of China is still much lower than that
of many developed countries.
The total water requirement
for food (TWRF) has been determined as 1127 km3 y−1 in
2003. Three scenarios are proposed to project future TWRF,
representing low, medium, and high levels of modernization
(S1, S2, and S3, respectively). Analysis of these three scenarios
indicates that TWRF will likely continue to increase in
the next three decades. An additional amount of water ranging
between 407 and 515 km3 y−1will be required in 2030
compared to the TWRF in 2003. This will undoubtedly put
high pressure on China’s already scarce water resources. We
conclude that the effect of the food consumption patterns on
China’s water resources is substantial both in the recent past
and in the near future. China will need to strengthen “green
water” management and to take advantage of “virtual water”
import to meet the additional TWRF.

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