Wal-Mart appears to be stepping up efforts to measure sustainability among its produce suppliers and is using some tools developed by the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops.
In a recent presentation to some industry members at the 2011 Sustainable Food Lab Leadership Summit in late June near Portland, Ore., officials with Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart said it is looking at what types of data to collect with an expanded pilot program for measuring produce sustainability.
Industry sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the retailer indicated it will ask top producers in its global food sourcing network to complete a Sustainable Produce Assessment this year.
Metrics developed by the California-based Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops are at least partially included in Wal-Mart’s Sustainable Produce Assessment, Wal-Mart officials said in their presentation. Those metrics include growers’ use of water, energy and fertilizer/nutrients, and a measure to track soil organic matter. From growers, Wal-Mart also is requesting measures of waste, pesticides, refrigerants, yields and other inputs.
While it has used a self-assessment from some produce suppliers in the U.S. Wal-Mart is employing sustainability audits for growers of South African apples and pears, Spanish stone fruits United Kingdom leafy greens.
The retailer said it plans to draft merchant pilot reports, launch additional crop pilots and add a packing phase to its assessment.