How much water is used in the production of food?

Look at the table below to see how much water is required to produce common foodstuffs.

Water consumption, litres
Cotton1 @ 250g2,495
Chocolate1 kg17,196
Beef1 kg15,415
Sheep Meat1 kg10,412
Pork1 kg5,988
Butter1 kg5,553
Chicken meat1 kg4,325
Cheese1 kg3,178
Olives1 kg3,025
Rice1 kg2,497
Pasta (dry)1 kg1,849
Bread1 kg1,608
Apple1 kg822
Banana1 kg790
Potatoes1 kg287
Cabbage1 kg237
Tomato1 kg214
Pizza1 unit1,239
Tea1 x 250 ml cup27
Milk1 x 250ml glass255
Wine1 x 250ml glass109
Beer1 x 250ml glass74

Download the source data (Excel)

Source: Institute of Mechanical Engineers

For an excellent introduction to the topic, see Tony Allan (2011) Virtual Water: tackling the threat to our planet’s most precious resource, London, Tauris (see the diagram on the water cost of breakfast).