October 21, 2010
Walmart unveiled its new global commitment to sustainable agriculture with the goal of help small- and medium-sized farmers expand their businesses, get more income for their products, and reduce the environmental impact of farming.
On a parallel track, the initiatives are expected to strengthen local economies and providing customers around the world with long-term access to affordable, high-quality, fresh food, Walmart said in a statement.
“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 -- for farmers, communities and customers.
In addition to economic considerations, Walmart hopes to influence “more efficient use of pesticides, fertilizer and water,” Duke noted.
Walmart’s sustainable agriculture strategy is divided into three broad areas -- farming, food production with less waste and spent resources, and securing sustainable supply sources.
Support farmers and their communities. By the end of 2015 in emerging markets, Walmart will help many small and mid-sized farmers gain access to markets by:
Produce more food with fewer resources and less waste. Walmart said it is committed to reducing and optimizing the resources required to produce food it sources, and drive more transparency into its supply chain. “For the first time Walmart will ask suppliers about the water, energy, fertilizer and pesticide they use per unit of food produced,” according to a company statement. The goals include:
Sustainably source key agriculture products.Because farming practices are having unintended side effects, from deforestation of the world’s rainforests to increasing greenhouse gas emissions, Walmart said it will focus on two of the major contributors to global deforestation –– palm oil and beef production.
The company said it will require sustainably sourced palm oil for all Walmart store brand products globally by the end of 2015.
Expanding on an existing practice of Walmart Brazil, Walmart worldwide will only sourcing beef that does not contribute to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest by the end of 2015.
In addition to the broad global program announced, various global markets have established country-specific commitments. And, in the U.S., 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.