By Dr. Mercola
Groceries make up more than half of Walmart’s retail sales, an amount that’s risen significantly over the past 10 years.
The rise makes sense from a business standpoint, since shoppers are still spending more on basic needs like food than they are on electronics or other household items – and Walmart’s product offerings have shifted to take advantage of that.
The retail giant is, however, claiming that its foray into foods, particularly localfoods, has not only saved customers over $1 billion, but also helped farmers in the process – a claim that just doesn’t add up.
Why Walmart is Not a Boon to Small Farmers
On Walmart’s corporate web site, it claims the company is “… strengthening local farmers and economies, while providing customers around the world with long-term access to affordable, fresh food.”1
And it would superficially appear that they have made some progress, increasing locally sourced produce by 97 percent in 2011 alone (still, this only accounts for 10 percent of the produce they sell). They also tout some lofty goals, including:
- Selling $1 billion in food sourced from 1 million small- and medium-sized farmers
- Increasing the income by 10-15% for the small- and medium-sized farmers they source from
- Doubling sales of locally sourced produce in the United States
Yet Walmart, which reportedly has grocery sales higher than those from Kroger, Safeway, and SuperValu grocery chains combined (for a total of about 145 billion in 2011), is uniquely positioned to actually cut small farmers’ profits, by virtue of their sheer size and market power. As Trefis reported:2