Virtual Water Flows - Exports and Imports

Crops

Virtual Water Export from AlbertaIn Alberta, the average annual volume of virtual water exports was 12.10 Gm3/year during the period 1999-2008 (see right chart). Wheat was the largest virtual water exporter, accounting for 65% of the total virtual water exports from crops.

Next to wheat, canola and barley also contributed greatly. Combined, these three crops contributed about 99% of the total virtual water exports from crop products.

The dominance of virtual water exports of wheat, canola and barley can also be seen from the annual virtual water exports (see left chart).

Virtual Water Export by YearVirtual water imports were marginal compared to virtual water exports. The average annual virtual water imports (during the period 1999-2008) were about 0.727 Gm3, which is only about 6% of the total virtual water exports. Cereal crops accounted for over 93% of the total virtual water imports of crop products.

The average annual net virtual water exports were 11.372 Gm3 (during the period 1999-2008). On a per capita basis, average annual net virtual water exports were 3,600 cubic meters per person per year.

 

Livestock

Virtual Water Export of Livestock Products from Alberta

In this report, beef, pork, horse meat, other meat, processed meats, dairy produce and eggs were considered in the calculation of virtual water flows. However, exports and imports of horse meat and eggs are marginal, and are not included.

The total virtual water exports of livestock products were 4.81 Gm3/year (during 1999-2008). Beef and pork were two major livestock products shaping the virtual water exports. Beef accounted for over 93% of total virtual water exports of livestock products, while pork accounted for around 6%. All other products accounted for the remaining 1%.

Virtual Water Export of Livestock Products by YearVirtual water imports of livestock products were marginal compared to virtual water exports. The average virtual water imports were 0.12 Gm3/yr during 1999-2008, which was 2.5% of the average virtual water exports. Beef accounted for over 50% of the total virtual water imports.

The average annual net virtual water imports of livestock products were 334.69 Gm3/yr. It is very clear that virtual water exports played an important role in shaping virtual water trade of livestock products in Alberta. On a per capita basis, the average annual net virtual water imports were 1,485 cubic meters per person per year.

 

Total: Crops and LivestockNet Virtual Water Export from Alberta

The average virtual water exports of crop and livestock products were 16.91 Gm3/year. The average virtual water imports of crop and livestock products were 0.85 Gm3/year. This results in average net virtual water exports of 16.06 Gm3/year. This means that, on average, each resident in Alberta exported 5,083 cubic meters per person per year. According to Hoekstra and Chapagain (2007), the water footprint of Canada was 2,049 cubic meters per person per year (during 1997-2001).


Average net virtual water exports from Alberta were almost 2.5 times of the water footprint of Canada. As such, it appears that domestic production of crop and livestock products were mainly used for food exports to other countries. The breakdown indicates that wheat, beef and canola were the three major products for net virtual water exports. Combined, they accounted for over 99% of the total net virtual water exported from Alberta. In fact, wheat accounted for almost half of the total net virtual water exported.

 Virtual Water flows by Year in Alberta