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75 Green Businesses » Wal-Mart

Posts Tagged ‘Wal-Mart’

Local Food Grows With the Price of Diesel

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

The soaring price of oil has rippled through the economy, raising the cost of transportation for consumers and businesses.  While this has hurt many businesses, it has actually helped others, often in surprising ways.  The high price of gas has hammered sales of trucks and SUVs, but sales of fuel efficient small cars are soaring.  People are staying closer to home to go shopping, hurting sales at some stores that require a long drive, but benefiting others in local neighborhoods.  Another place where the high price of oil has hit home is in food distribution costs. 

The rising price of diesel is causing some stores to rethink their food distribution, working to source food locally rather than trucking it across the country.  Mega retailer Wal-Mart is one of them, announcing it will increase its sales of locally grown produce (July 1, 2008):

http://walmartstores.com/FactsNews/NewsRoom/8414.aspx

Not everyone is thrilled.  The goals of Wal-Mart are probably not exactly the same as the local food movement, in general.  While the local food movement has been focussed on small local farmers, Wal-Mart does things big, and will be buying huge quantities of food, generally from large farms.  While the local food movement is focussed on buying food that travels as little as possible, Wal-Mart is seeking food grown in the same state or the same region. 

Check out tree-hugger for both sides of the argument:

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/07/walmart-largest-buyer-locally-grown-produce.php

The bottom line though is that Wal-Mart is influential, and where they go others follow.  By buying food closer to their stores, they are cutting food miles, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and saving money at the same time.  And by doing it on a large scale, they may stimulate the support for local food produced for others as well, including those who want small scale, sustainably farmed, food that is grown within 100 miles of home. 

The high price of oil once again is a problem for some, but an opportunity for others.  Entrepreneurs who get involved in the production, packaging, and distribution of locally grown food may find themselves on the winning side.