What’s Walmart’s top-selling item? Out of the thousands of items for sale at any Walmart store, the item topping the list isn’t toilet paper or video games … it’s bananas.
Surprised? In addition to being a retail powerhouse, Walmart is the world’s largest grocer with one of the biggest food supply chains. This status makes the company’s recent announcement all the more impressive: ambitious new commitments to expand support for sustainable agriculture practices by 2015, including:
- Doubling the percent of locally-grown produce sold in U.S. stores (up to 9 percent);
- Requiring sustainably-sourced palm oil in all private label products that include palm oil as an ingredient;
- Creating an agricultural sustainability index that will make sure Walmart buys from the greenest suppliers, and allow customers to choose which products to purchase based on how they were grown and/or shipped; and
- Ensuring that beef sold in Walmart stores has not contributed to deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.
For 10 years, CI’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB) has been working with corporations like Walmart to green their business practices, and provided substantial input into the process leading to this important decision. “Walmart’s ambitious and forward thinking goals will have far-reaching and positive economic and environmental consequences for farmers around the world — consumers who will have broader access to fresh produce and also to a finite planet that will need to feed approximately 9 billion people by 2050,” said Donnell Ocker Roy, the senior director of corporate relations for CELB.
In addition to other environmental consequences, the agricultural sector currently contributes about 13-16 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. When a company of Walmart’s scale decides to make a change in the agricultural practices of its vast supply chain, the impact reverberates across the planet. “Walmart’s recognition that agriculture depends on nature and the services nature provides is truly demonstrating a leadership position that will influence countless others to emulate,” said Roy.
To learn more about Walmart’s new sustainable agriculture goals, read their press release.