Whole Foods Questions Sincerity of Wal-Mart’s Sustainability Efforts

by | Jan 3, 2007

Whole Foods, with 39,000 employees, $4.7 billion in annual sales, and 187 locations in North America and the U.K., has taken a strong stance on the environment. With consumers around world focusing on sustainability and global responsibility, Walter Robb, co-president, Whole Foods, believes other companies will have no choice but to follow. One of those companies is Wal-Mart, according to Corporate Board member, which has announced a goal of being powered exclusively by renewable energy and producing zero waste.

Wal-Mart has also made a foray into organic food, but, according to Robb, just because Wal-Mart decides to sell something doesn’t mean the Wal-Mart consumer is going to buy it. In order to sell organic food a company needs to spend time educating customers.

Wal-Mart is “looking around for how they can grow, and one of their answers is, ‘Well, we’ll be more sustainable and we’ll sell more organic.’ This is a strategy for them, as well as a feel-good thing,” Robb said. 

Robb points out that one positive aspect of Wal-Mart’s green makeover is that other businesses have to believe that sustainability is here to stay.

“We can all agree that it’s a good thing for the planet,” Robb said. “I don’t know that Wal-Mart thinks that as much as it thinks that’s a business game for them.”

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