ORLANDO, Fla. – Although sustainability is something all would like to embrace, retailers and suppliers have to be careful of overstating their commitment to the environment, said speakers during this week’s General Merchandise Marketing Conference here of the Global Market Development Center, Colorado Springs. “A large challenge for both retailers and suppliers is the backlash,” said Tom Watson, vice president, general merchandise, Hy-Vee, West Des Moines, Iowa, during a retailer panel that followed a presentation by Maryellen Molyneaux, president, Natural Marketing Institute, Harleysville, Pa. Jay Goble, vice president, merchandising, Valu Merchandisers, Kansas City, Kan.; Curtis Maki, vice president, HBC/GM/pharmacy, Topco Associates, Skokie, Ill.; and Steve Davis, senior vice president, sales, merchandising and operations, Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, Boulder, Colo., also participated on the panel. “With the carbon footprinting that is coming forward, do we as a retailer want to wave our flag and, six months later, have a report come back that says we were not exactly correct?” Watson said. One example he cited is durable shopping bags that are made in China. After retailers introduced them – sometimes with great fanfare – it was established that the importing process was less friendly to the environment than the savings of using them instead of plastic bags. Many of these retailers are now trying to source the bags domestically, panelists said.
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