On Monday, Walmart held its second semi-annual Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting — webcast live and re-aired the following day — and announced a new pledge to help create a more sustainable food system. Taken at face value, the country’s largest food retailer appears to be making a real commitment to help develop a healthier, more affordable, and less environmentally damaging food supply. Walmart’s real legacy in this area, though, will be measured by how much concrete action follows its ambitious commitments.
At the outset of the milestones webcast, the company’s CEO, Doug McMillon, proclaimed that in order to meet the population’s increasing food demands, Walmart and its suppliers need to become more sustainable players in the global food supply chain. According to this new commitment, Walmart will aim to achieve this by ensuring that the food it sells, and the supply chain from which that food comes, is: (i) more affordable (to the environment, society, and customers); (ii) safer and more transparent; (iii) healthier; and (iv) more accessible.
Like many corporate marketing efforts, in both the webcast and the company’s concurrent announcements it is difficult to parse the genuine commitments from the hollow promises; the real passion from the empty rhetoric meant to patronize the most environmentally conscious consumers and NGOs.
To look strictly at its pledges, Walmart sure seems to acknowledge that bold action is required if it is to contribute to reversing the trends of environmental degradation and resource scarcity. The company, which claims that environmental sustainability is now an “essential ingredient” in its business model, already says that it strives to sell only products that “sustain people and the environment.”
So, how exactly is the company planning to increase the sustainability of the food it buys and sells?Click to continue reading »