Walmart’s Sustainable Agriculture Goals: A Critical Review

“Sustainability is a business strategy. It’s not a charitable giving strategy.”

I wasn’t surprised to hear this from Beth Keck, Walmart’s Senior Director of Sustainability, who spoke on the role of the private sector in sustainable agriculture at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC late last month. Indeed, I’ve heard Gary Hirshberg, Chairman, President and CEO of Stonyfield Farm and author of Stirring it up: How to Make Money and Save the World, call on sustainable producers to harness the power of big business. Ms. Keck echoed this sentiment: “What we’re concerned with is how our business processes and our business decisions make a difference in the supply chains we interact with.” Unlike Mr. Hirshberg, though, Ms. Keck could not provide a real definition of “sustainability.” Walmart does not have its own definition, but “often cite[s] the original concept of leaving the earth in the same shape that you have found it or better—trying to be neutral or add back.” Read More >