Update: Wal-Mart's Response to Business Week


Yesterday we wrote about a Business Week article that discussed the possible decline in Wal-Mart selling organics. Because of this, TreeHugger received a note which included a Letter to the Editor written by Karen Burk, a corporate communications professional at Wal-Mart. Since we are all about reporting what we know, we felt our readers should hear both sides of the story. Ms. Burk’s letter follows:

April 13, 2007

Dear Editor,

Pallavi Gogoi's article, posted April 12, 2007, on Businessweek.com is an erroneous and inaccurate representation of Wal-Mart's commitment to providing our customers with affordable access to organic products.We have been selling organic products in our Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets for many years and, due to customer demand, announced plans to double the organic food offerings in those locations in March of 2006. We quickly met that goal and even exceeded it in communities where there is an exceptionally high demand for organic offerings. We continue to see steady customer interest in buying quality organics at great prices.

We realize that the customer base in each of our communities is unique, so we tailor the assortment in each of our stores to meet our customers' needs. This is part of our long-standing "store of the community" philosophy of matching the mix of merchandise with the customer base and demand in each specific community. At a Bear Stearns investors conference on March 8, 2006, Wal-Mart executive Stephen Quinn announced, "We're soon going to have over 400 SKUs (stock keeping units) of both fresh and brand name superior organic foods available at the Wal-Mart price." Today we're proud to offer significantly more than that company-wide, which is completely in line with our plans. This enables specific locations to customize their assortment of organics to fit the consumers in their community. This simply makes good business sense. We've used this same philosophy of tailoring our merchandise mix for each store for various categories for more than 10 years.

As a company that's always working to provide our customers with the best products at the best value, we determine what we'll buy based on ongoing assessments of quality, price, customer feedback and other factors. Organic apples are one of the top selling organic produce
items at Wal-Mart, along with carrots, citrus, lettuce and packaged salads. Far from "backing off," sales for Wal-Mart's organic produce for 2006 were at a growth rate well above the industry average of 13.7 percent, based on data from the Organic Trade Association.

Bottom line, Wal-Mart's growth in the organics category will continue to be reflective of the demand and we will continue providing our customers with the organic products they desire at low prices.


Karen Burk
Wal-Mart Corporate Communications