Walmart focuses on sustainable farming

Oct. 14, 2010 at 2:41 PM
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BENTONVILLE, Ark., Oct. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. retail giant Walmart said Thursday it was revamping its grocery business to concentrate more on locally grown foods and sustainable farming practices.

The implications could be enormous, as Walmart is not only the world's largest grocery store, but it is a trend-setter across the retail industry, The New York Times reported.

When Walmart says, "jump," producers are also likely to ask, "how high?"

In a program revealed Thursday, Walmart said it would double the amount of food purchases from within their home states to 9 percent. Thatd falls well short of its 30 percent target for its Canadian stores, but is still a significant push, the Times said.

The discount retailer said it would spend more than $1 billion on produce storage and transportation to bring fresher foods to customers faster, reduce waste and increase shelf-life and profits. The company said it would also begin an educational program for growers and collecting information on chemical use and other farming practices to allow consumers and store buyers to chose produce from environmentally friendly sources.

"Grocery is more than half of Walmart's business. Yet only four of our 39 public sustainability goals address food," said Walmart President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Duke in a statement prepared for a meeting Thursday morning.

On the other hand, "No other retailer has the ability to make more of a difference than Walmart," he said.

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