ANAHEIM, Calif. — Wal-Mart Stores is focusing on measuring sustainability efforts and results in order to earn consumer trust, accelerate progress and better manage its program, according to Ronald McCormick, Wal-Mart senior director of local sourcing.
“Another one of the many things that we discovered in this process [of implementing sustainability initiatives] is that it’s easy to make the commitments, it’s hard to do the work, and it’s even more hard to do the work in a way that you can measure it, that you can identify that the results that you are getting are based on the efforts that you’re putting into it,” McCormick said at an education session at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit Convention last month.
“And it’s very different being able to talk to customers that may not trust an organization, a big organization like Wal-Mart, that we are doing the things that we say we are doing and that we’re making a difference.”
McCormick said Wal-Mart has to measure its sustainability efforts’ results in a way that gives consumers confidence.
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Before the conference, Wal-Mart announced a new 2017 goal to have 70% of the products in Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart U.S. stores come from suppliers who use its sustainability index to evaluate and share the sustainability of their products. The company also said it intends to use the index when designing private-label products.
Wal-Mart will include manufacturers’ sustainability efforts on a scorecard, which will encourage both suppliers and buyers to advance their sustainability efforts, said McCormick.
“The buyer would then be able to see what the aggregate score of their category is so they will be able to tell whether their category is making progress or not making progress on sustainability.”
Suppliers will also be ranked on their sustainability efforts.
Wal-Mart partners with groups like the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops and the Sustainability Consortium, McCormick said, to help keep the cost of sustainability efforts down.
The partnerships are “all important because they are trying to set us up in a way that we can measure what we’re doing and manage what we’re doing in a responsible way, so we’re getting the results that we want,” he said.
Between two-thirds and three-fourths of Wal-Mart’s shoppers say price is the most important consideration when shopping, McCormick said, noting that half of shoppers feel passionate about the need for sustainable sourcing and half are indifferent.
“So for us to be able to deliver on that expectation and to be a low-price leader and satisfy those customers who both want and don’t want sustainability, we have to be able to do it at low cost,” he said.
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