Wal-Mart Stores on Monday introduced a new commitment to food sustainability, saying the effort would contribute to lowering the “true cost” of food while improving access to healthy food and transparency as to its origins and ingredients.
The initiatives were announced at a summit at the retailer’s Bentonville, Ark., headquarters.
“The future of food is absolutely critical for both our society and for our business, which means we have a huge opportunity to make a difference here,” Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart, said in a statement. “We’ve learned on our sustainability journey that we’re most successful when our initiatives create social and environmental value and business value at the same time. Food is our number one category worldwide, and we are going to do even more in our grocery business in the years ahead. Paving a sustainable future for food is necessary for society and our business.”
Walmart aligned its sustainability efforts under the following four “pillars”:
• Affordable: Working collaboratively with suppliers, Walmart said it had the opportunity to lower the “true cost” of food – not only by providing everyday low costs for customers, but also by decreasing the environmental impact of agricultural practices. The company said it would launch a Climate Smart Agriculture Platform, designed to provide increasing visibility over the next 10 years to agricultural yields, greenhouse gas emissions, and water usage, while driving adoption of best practices in sustainable agriculture.
• Accessible: Since announcing its “Fighting Hunger Together” commitment in 2010, Walmart and Sam’s Club facilities have donated more than 1.5 billion pounds of food, surpassing the initial goal of 1.1 billion over five years, a year early. In addition, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation will elevate their commitment to accessibility by aiming to provide 4 billion healthier meals to those who need them in the U.S. over the next five years.
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• Healthier: Walmart said it was committed to ensuring that eating healthier is easy and affordable. The company has reduced sodium by 13% and sugar levels by 10% in its Great Value and Marketside private label products, and launched its “Great for You” icon to empower consumers to identify healthier food options on store shelves. Walmart said it would provide nutrition education to 4 million U.S. households in 2015.
• Safe and Transparent: Saying that a transparent food chain would foster improved food safety, worker safety, and animal welfare, Walmart said it would will work to provide more information and transparency about the products on its shelves so customers can see where an item came from, how it was made, and decode the ingredient label.
“Grocery is a very personal category – it’s about what you feed your kids and how you take care of yourself,” McMillon said. “It’s about your health and wellbeing. And it all comes down to trust. Customers have to trust us on food. When we focus on food, we are doing right by our customers, our communities, and our planet.”
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