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SISC Informing Walmart's Sustainability Index Work


Staff, Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops

11/03/2010

On October 14, 2010, Walmart announced a suite of global sustainable agriculture goals. Among these is a commitment to produce more food with fewer resources and less waste.  Their announcement states:

"Walmart has one of the world's largest food supply chains and is committed to reducing and optimizing the resources required to produce that food and driving more transparency into its supply chain. For the first time Walmart will ask suppliers about the water, energy, fertilizer and pesticide they use per unit of food produced. The goals include: accelerating the agricultural focus of the Sustainability Index, beginning with a Sustainable Produce Assessment for top producers in its Global Food Sourcing network in 2011..."

While Walmart’s Ron McCormick, senior director of local and sustainable produce sourcing, has been a participant on the Coordinating Council since the inception of the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops, the press coverage left us wondering, Will Walmart utilize the metrics developed by the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops?

We raised this question with Beth Keck, Senior Director Sustainability, who replied that, indeed, Walmart wants a shared process for developing a system to measure sustainability.  In her words:

"Walmart is a founding member of the Sustainability Consortium (sustainabilityconsortium.org) and works with other similar organizations such as the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops to encourage creation of a shared process for measuring sustainability that is based in science. We support work such as that being undertaken by the Stewardship Index and the Field to Market Alliance to create processes for measurement and reporting while letting us all work together to create a safer, more sustainable future."

The aim of the Stewardship Index is to produce widely-supported metrics that can be utilized by growers and others along the specialty crop supply chain, to benchmark, compare, and communicate their sustainability performance in a transparent way. By collaborating with stakeholders such as Walmart we aim to develop agreement on a common approach that will prevent duplicative measurement and reporting programs for sustainability.