Walmart Unveils Sustainable Agriculture Goals

Walmart (NYSE: WMT) says it will double the amount of locally grown produce sold at its stores by the end of 2015, bringing the total to 9% of all produce sold in its U.S. stores.

That means they’ll sell $1 billion in food sourced from 1 million small and medium farmers, increases their income by 10-15%.

Walmart also plans to provide training to a million farmers and farm workers in areas such as crop selection and sustainable farming practices, and expects half of those trained to be women.

The announcement is part of a larger strategy to overhaul its produce supply chain to encourage production of more food with fewer resources and less waste.

For the first time, Walmart will ask suppliers about the water, energy, fertilizer and pesticides they use per unit of food produced.

Its goals include: establishing a "Sustainable Produce Assessment" for top producers in its Global Food Sourcing network in 2011; reducing food waste in its emerging market stores and clubs by 15% and by 10% in stores and clubs in its other markets by the end of 2015.

Walmart says it will also focus on two of the major contributors to global deforestation, palm oil and beef production.

By the end of 2015, Walmart will require sustainably sourced palm oil for its private label products globally. 

And it will expand Walmart Brazil’s current practice worldwide – it will only source beef that doesn’t contribute to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

It is estimated that 60% of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is related to cattle ranching expansion.

Walmart’s also established country specific commitments, such as sourcing 50% of its fresh produce in Inda through its Direct Farm Program and upgrading 15% of Direct Farm products in China from Green certified to Organic certified.

Walmart consulted with a number of suppliers, universities and non-government organizations to develop these goals, including World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, Rainforest Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, the Field to Market Alliance and Environmental Defense Fund.

“More than 1 billion people around the world rely on farming and hundreds of millions of them live on less than $2 a day,” says Mike Duke, Walmart president and CEO. “Globally, with a booming population, food production must increase roughly 70 percent to feed 9 billion people in 2050.”

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