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Nestle faces mineral water problems in drought-hit France

Drought conditions in France are impacting producers of mineral water
Drought conditions in France are impacting producers of mineral water - Copyright AFP Jason Redmond
Drought conditions in France are impacting producers of mineral water - Copyright AFP Jason Redmond

Global food and beverage giant Nestle said Thursday that it would stop extracting from two mineral water wells in eastern France due to drought and increasingly unpredictable weather conditions.

The group’s mineral water subsidiary, Nestle Waters, which owns brands such as Vittel and Perrier, said it had suspended operations at two wells used to produce its Hepar water in the Vosges region of eastern France. 

Another four wells will continue to be used for the brand, which is coveted for its high levels of magnesium.

“Like the whole of the industry, Nestle Waters faces worsening climatic conditions, with more intense and frequent events, such as regular droughts followed by heavy rain, which affect operating conditions at some wells on its site in the Vosges,” the group told AFP.

The two Hepar wells were identified as “particularly vulnerable” because of their shallow depth which means it is “very difficult to maintain the stability of the essential characteristics of a natural mineral water.”

France as a whole saw 32 days without significant rainfall in January and February, a winter drought that followed record heat last summer that saw emergency water measures put in place for most of the country.

An estimated 75 percent of French groundwater sources were at moderately low or very low levels in April, according to the state-run French Geological Survey (BRGM).

Water restrictions are currently in place for 20 out of 96 departments on the mainland, with three judged to be in crisis in the southeast of the country.

Other French mineral waters are also affected by the increasing scarcity of water, including the famed Volvic brand which is extracted from the formerly volcanic hills of central France.

Authorities in the Puy-de-Dome area widened water restrictions on Tuesday this week.

The owner of Volvic, French multinational Danone, is set to decrease its monthly water extraction by five percent in May and June, the company told AFP. 

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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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