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Inside Walmart’s Sustainability Agenda

Wal-Mart has been making changes to be more sustainable. What are those changes and when are they happening? 

Inside Walmart's Sustainability Agenda

Contrary to some critics, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. recently announced that it plans to double to sales of locally-grown produce by 2025—putting the store at the forefront of the sustainable movement. In addition, it will expand its sustainable sourcing of 20 commodities including bananas and coffee, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is all part of the company’s new commitments within its sustainability agenda.

Wal-Mart’s Chief Executive Doug McMillon said the objective is to reduce 18 percent of operation emissions by 2025. This plan was approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative, which is aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement. Moreover, the company will work with suppliers to reduce emissions by one gigaton by 2030.

In real terms, this equates to taking over 211 million cars off of U.S. roads. Other highlights include achieving zero waste to landfills in key markets by 2025, working with partners to treat workers ethically across the supply chain and reduce packaging waste.

Cage-free eggs

This isn’t the first step Wal-Mart has taken towards more sustainable operations, retailing and production. The company has changed the way America, and the world, shops. Back in April, the company announced that it will switch its supply chain to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2025 for all of its 4,600 U.S. Wal-Mart and 650 Sam’s Club locations.

Since Wal-Mart makes up for 25 percent of all groceries sold in the U.S., that means around 11 billion eggs per year. Other companies that have made cage-free egg commitments include Target, Trader Joe’s, Costco, General Mills, Kellog, ConAgra, Unilever and McDonald’s.

Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer at Walmart said in a statement, “Our customers and associates count on Walmart and Sam’s Club to deliver on affordability and quality, while at the same time offering transparency into how their food is grown and raised. Our commitment to transition to a cage-free egg supply chain recognizes that expectation and represents another step we are taking to improve transparency for food we sell in our U.S. stores and clubs.”

The cage-free initiative will  “require 100 percent of shell egg suppliers to be certified and fully compliant with United Egg Producers (UEP) Animal Husbandry Guidelines or equivalent standards.” After this particular announcement, Wayne Pacelle–the CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States–praised Wal-Mart.

Inside Walmart's Sustainability Agenda

Fresh food at the forefront

The company already has a fresh food strategy. Greg Foran, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart U.S. stated, “We’re seeing it with some better traffic, comps, bigger basket sizes, and it’s happening quite simply because customers are seeing better quality. Overall fresh impression is a measure based on customer surveys … and we have customers that rate our fresh department, and we use that to see how we stack up to our competitors. So as a data point, we’ve seen about a 700 base improvement (from a year ago). It’s a pretty big shift. We have more to do, though, and our fresh team is focused on getting more of the items customers want and laying them out really well.”

The company redesigned the produce section in 3,100 stores. Mr. Foran explained, “Project Dangle is what we’ve called it. I’m pleased with how that’s actually rolled itself out. And we’re working on flow so that we have less waste. And at the end of the day, that’s giving better shelf life to customers when they get home. We’re seeing that because we’re seeing that the inventory in fruit and veg has come down a day and a half versus a year ago. That’s good. And we’ve expanded our footprint with more sourcing hubs, both locally and in the U.S., and now working … internationally on how we can create even better leverage there.” Furthermore, Wal-Mart opened a new milk plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana in order to maintain freshness, with value.

What do you think of Wal-Mart’s sustainability agenda? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Katrina Manning is a content marketing specialist who has penned thousands of articles on business, tech, lifestyle and digital marketing for a wide variety of global B2B clients. She mostly writes for www.leadpath.com and she is also the author of three books and is currently working on her fourth. In her free time, she enjoys fundraising for charitable causes, playing with her cat and baking.

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