Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has launched its new global commitment to sustainable agriculture that the retailer says will help small and medium-sized farmers expand their businesses and reduce the environmental impact of farming, while strengthening local economies and increasing access to affordable, high-quality, fresh food.
“More than 1 billion people around the world rely on farming and hundreds of millions of them live on less than $2 a day,” said 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. Through sustainable agriculture, Walmart is uniquely positioned to make a positive difference in food production. Our efforts will help increase farmer incomes, lead to more efficient use of pesticides, fertilizer and water, and provide fresher produce for our customers.”
Walmart’s strategy is divided into three broad areas:
- Support farmers and their communities: More than a billion people rely on agriculture for subsistence. By the end of 2015 in emerging markets, Walmart will help many small and mid-sized farmers gain access to markets by selling $1 billion in food sourced from 1 million small and medium farmers, and providing training in crop selection and sustainable farming practices. In the United States, Walmart will double its sale of locally sourced produce and increase its purchase of select U.S. crops.
- Produce more food with fewer resources and less waste: For the first time, Walmart will ask suppliers about the water, energy, fertilizer and pesticide they use per unit of food produced. Goals include investing more than $1 billion in its global fresh supply chain in the next five years and reducing food waste in emerging-market stores.
- Sustainably source key agriculture products: Walmart will require sustainably sourced palm oil for its private brand products globally by the end of 2015, and expand Walmart Brazil’s practice of only sourcing beef that does not contribute to Amazon deforestation.
Walmart’s Heritage Agriculture program will help the company double the sale of locally grown food. The program focuses on sourcing produce from states and regions with long histories of agricultural production, such as the I-95 corridor along the East Coast, the Delta region in the South and the Mid-America region of the Midwest.
With fiscal 2010 sales of $405 billion, Walmart operates more than 8,400 retail units under 55 different banners in 15 countries.