It seems that Walmart is basking in the sustainability limelight these days.
Earlier this month, the retail giant unveiled an innovative closed loop initiative that uses the company’s own recycled waste materials to produce new products.
Now, Walmart has announced a renewed global commitment to sustainable agriculture. The company says this new initiative will:
- help small and medium sized farmers expand their businesses, get more income for their products, and reduce the environmental impact of farming,
- strengthen local economies, and
- provide customers around the world with long-term access to affordable, high-quality, fresh food.
Among a variety of ambitious goals, Walmart is pledging to
- sell $1 billion in food sourced from 1 million small and medium farmers.
- provide training to 1 million farmers and farm workers in such areas as crop selection and sustainable farming practices. The company expects half of those trained to be women.
- accelerate the agricultural focus of the Sustainability Index, beginning with a Sustainable Produce Assessment for top producers in its Global Food Sourcing network in 2011.
- invest more than $1 billion in its global fresh supply chain in the next five years.
- reduce food waste in its emerging market stores and clubs by 15 percent and by 10 percent in stores and clubs in its other markets by the end of 2015.
- require sustainably sourced palm oil for all Walmart private brand products globally by the end of 2015. Sourcing sustainable palm oil for Walmart’s US and UK private brand products alone will reduce GHG emissions by 5 million metric tons by the end of 2015.
- expand the current practice of Walmart Brazil of only sourcing beef that does not contribute to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest to all Walmart companies worldwide by the end of 2015. It is estimated that 60 percent of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is related to cattle ranching expansion.
In the US, Walmart will double its sale of locally sourced produce and increase its purchase of select US crops.
“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. Our efforts will help increase farmer incomes, lead to more efficient use of pesticides, fertilizer and water, and provide fresher produce for our customers.”