Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wal-Mart tries to green up its wheat

Here's an interesting retail-related story from Reuters: Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is trying to make its image more environmentally friendly by changing the way farmers who supply it grow their wheat.

Wal-Mart has been trying to reduce its carbon footprint and improve the way its perceived lately, with a pledge to reduce carbon emissions from its supply chain by 20 million tonnes by 2015. The wheat effort will hopefully lower the amount of energy and fertilizer to produce wheat, which Wal-Mart buys and uses for its Great Value brand products.

Executives have been starting at the beginning, with visits to wheat fields. From the Reuters story: "We don't have a lot of visibility in the supply chain, so we started in the field," says Robert Kaplan, a sustainability manager at the Bentonville, Arkansas-based firm. "I hadn't seen a wheat field before and I wanted to find out how we go from a green crop in the fields to flour on our shelves.""

The company is likely to promote satellite-guided, precision farming and "no-till" methods that avoid plowing the soil, to reduce erosion. Wal-Mart also floated the idea of transporting manure from chicken farms in the South to wheat farmers in other parts of the country. Whichever course of action Wal-Mart takes, its likely to have a ripple effect on farming, simply because of the retailer's sheer size.


Anonymous said...

Why don't they just source it from China like everything else they sell?