Supply Scan

News and Trends From Across the Food Supply Chain


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» WalMart To Establish Sustainable Product Index
WalMart Stores Inc. is developing a worldwide sustainable product index, which will establish a single source of data for evaluating the sustainability of products.

“Customers want products that are more efficient, that last longer and perform better,” says Mike Duke, WalMart’s president and CEO. “And increasingly they want information about the entire lifecycle of a product so they can feel good about buying it. They want to know that the materials in the product are safe, that it was made well and that it was produced in a responsible way.

“We do not see this as a trend that will fade. Higher customer expectations are a permanent part of the future,” Duke continues. “At WalMart, we’re working to make sustainability sustainable, so that it’s a priority in good times and in the tough times. An important part of that is developing the tools to help enable sustainable consumption.”

The company will introduce the initiative in three phases, beginning with a survey of its more than 100,000 suppliers around the world. The survey includes 15 questions that will serve as a tool for WalMart’s suppliers to evaluate their own sustainability efforts.

The questions will focus on four areas: energy and climate; material efficiency; natural resources, and; people and community.

“The survey will include simple but powerful questions covering familiar territory, such as the location of our suppliers’ factories, along with new areas like water use and solid waste,” says John Fleming, chief merchandising officer, WalMart U.S. “The questions aren’t complicated but we’ve never before systematically asked for this kind of information. The survey is a key first step toward establishing real transparency in our supply chain.”

Fleming also says the company will ask its top tier U.S. suppliers to complete the survey by Oct. 1. Outside the U.S., the company will develop timelines on a country-by-country basis for suppliers to complete the survey.

As a second step, the company is helping create a consortium of universities that will collaborate with suppliers, retailers, NGOs and government to develop a global database of information on the lifecycle of products—from raw materials to disposal. WalMart has provided the initial funding for the Sustainability Index Consortium, and invited all retailers and suppliers to contribute.

The company will also partner with one or more leading technology companies to create an open platform to power the index.

“It is not our goal to create or own this index,” says Duke. “We want to spur the development of a common database that will allow the consortium to collect and analyze the knowledge of the global supply chain.”

Supervalu Inc. has reached an agreement with Associated Food Stores for the sale of the majority of its Albertsons stores located in Utah.

The sale will include 36 Albertsons stores in Utah and their respective pharmacies and fuel centers, with the exception of three St. George—area stores which will remain Albertsons and continue to be operated by Minneapolis-based Supervalu.

In connection with this transaction, Supervalu is also seeking a buyer for its two Albertsons stores in Orem, UT and two Albertsons stores in West Jordan, UT, and will continue to operate those stores while a buyer is identified.

Associated Food Stores intends to rename the 36 purchased stores, and expects to offer employment to most Albertsons associates. Supervalu’s Salt Lake City distribution center will remain part of Supervalu and will remain open to serve Albertsons stores in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close this fall. Supervalu will realize approximately $150 million in after-tax net proceeds from the sale.

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