Wal-Mart announced Thursday it will double sales of local produce to 9 percent of its purchases in U.S. stores. The company plans to triple the amount of food it sells from small- and medium-size farms in emerging markets such as India and Brazil to $1 billion within five years.
“Our size and scale have been big tools for change,” Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke said in a meeting with employees at the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. “There is an opportunity to lead in this area of sustainable agriculture.”
Wal-Mart began working on the project a year ago with advocacy groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund and the World Wildlife Fund.
The retailer will work with large farmers to expand their operations closer to Wal-Mart supply centers and will buy more produce from small and female-owned farms near its stores.
Internationally, Wal-Mart plans to help small- and medium-size farms boost production. It plans to train 1 million workers—half of them women—in sustainable farming practices.