Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wal-mart's threat to the food system

The Atlantic
"Eaters beware: Walmart is taking over our food system" by Stacey Mitchell, on brought to light the power of Wal-Mart in the American food system.  I knew Wal-mart was becoming a considerable force in conventional and organic markets, but had not realized their pervasiveness in our food system, and how rapidly their presence has grown.

I won't ruin the article for you (you should read it), but here are some interesting facts I learned:
  • The first Walmart supercenter (store with an included grocery store) opened in 1989
  • By 1998 there were 441 supercenters
  • From 1998 - 2012 that number has grown to over 3,000 super-centers
  • Wal-Mart is targeting New York, Chicago and Washington DC for expansion
  • This has set off a chain of mergers and purchases so food companies can grow to a large enough size to do business with Wal-Mart
Also this little statistic is some real food for thought: Walmart has also been linked to rising obesity. "An additional supercenter per 100,000 residents increases ... the obesity rate by 2.3 percentage points," a recent study concluded. "These results imply that the proliferation of Walmart supercenters explains 10.5 percent of the rise in obesity since the late 1980s."

This is a great reminder that there are many elements to the sustainable food debate - we aren't just looking for local and organic, we are looking for decentralization and where it is possible, completely removing the "food provider" middle-man part of the food supply chain that insures farmers are underpaid while customers over pay. 

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. Really great progress Walmart is doing day by day. All what attracting customer is quality of grocery items and service of Walmart.