A recent article in the NY Times highlights the extent at which the sustainability and “buy local” movement has effected how even the world’s largest grocer plans to do business. Wal-Mart announced that they will be focusing their produce buying through a network of domestically based farm, providing training and resources to small and medium farmers.
How does Wal-Mart Define “Local?”
According to the article, Wal-Mart’s definition is produce grown and sold in the same state.
“No other retailer has the ability to make more of a difference than Wal-Mart,” the retailer’s president and chief executive, Michael T. Duke, said in remarks prepared for a meeting on Thursday morning. “Grocery is more than half of Wal-Mart’s business. Yet only four of our 39 public sustainability goals address food.”
Wal-Mart also plans to invest heavily in the supply-chain for bringing in the locally grown produces, stating:
Both in the United States and globally, Wal-Mart will invest more than $1 billion to improve its supply chain for perishable food. For example, if trucks, trains and distribution centers could help farmers in Minnesota get crops to Wal-Mart more quickly, the result would be less spoiled food, a longer shelf life and presumably more profit for the farmers and for Wal-Mart.
Will Wal-Mart seek locally grown flowers?
Despite the perishable nature of flowers, its not apparent from the article that the same commitment has been made to the floral category. Clearly California not only represents a year-round availability for locally grown flowers in the state of California, but it also highlights the opportunity California flower farms have to be the “local” source of flowers nationwide. With almost 80% of domestically grown flowers grown in California, Wal-Mart will have a decision to make to fulfill its ambitious buy local plan.
Does California become the “local” choice for all of its stores across the nation? Or will they continue to source the majority of their floral buying out of South America?
I hope they “Think California” and Buy California Grown Flowers.
The NY Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/business/15walmart.html