Until now, the Wal-Mart news we followed has centered around improvements to North American operations, green product lines that will soon be on the shelves, and guiding lights behind the changes. Which left an opening for readers to worry over how small organic businesses and distant suppliers might be affected, pro or con? The time is right to address how a huge business like Wal-Mart will meld sustainability simultaneously into it's corporate culture and it's supply chain. On cue, comes a feature article in the Washington Post, with the story of Wal-Mart buyers visiting a fair-trade coffee farmer, in consideration of buying directly from his operation, bypassing several layers of distribution, and possibly bumping from it's retail shelves a big familiar name brand to make space for the directly suppled fair trade product.
The dynamic is tense, and extremely interesting. Here's the money quote from the Wal-Mart side: "At Wal-Mart, executives say a rebirth is occurring inside their no-frills headquarters. "Sustainability" and "trend-right" have entered the corporate lexicon alongside "everyday low prices.""
And from the farmer's side: "When you're working with the world's largest retailer, you can never win. You can only be winning."
We suggest you read the whole article.