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Wal-Mart’s Massive Global Food Business To Add More Local Sustainable Food

October 14, 2010: 03:22 AM EST

As part of its five-year global effort to shrink the company’s environmental footprint, the world’s biggest retail grocer will buy 9 percent of its U.S. produce from local, sustainably-run farms; an increase of 100 percent. Considering that Wal-Mart’s food business represents a large proportion of its $400 million annual sales, this move has significant consequences for U.S. farmers located in states where Wal-Mart operates. To further its sustainability impact, the retail giant plans to evaluate the production and shipping efficiencies of large suppliers and help small (under 50 acres) and mid-size farmers, particularly in emerging economies, to build more ecologically-aware operations. Part of the commitment includes selling $1 billion of produce from one million farms. In addition, Wal-Mart will spend over $1 billion to address spoilage and reduce waste by 10 percent in the U.S., expecting to improve profitability for itself and suppliers, and it has announced sustainable sourcing initiatives for palm oil and beef. Despite reservations from some, experts say that Wal-Mart’s plans will significantly advance local and global sustainability.

STEPHANIE CLIFFORD, "Wal-Mart to Buy More Local Produce", New York Times , October 14, 2010, © The New York Times Company
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