Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wal-Mart Greening American Consumption

Nutrition labeling has been a source of consumer information since the 1970's to help people make informed food choices. The FDA Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition even has website tutorials to help consumers read and understand the components of the food labels. According to a 2006 Associated Press poll, 80 percent of Americans check the food labels at the grocery story, but 44 percent say they may buy the item regardless of high fat, calories and sugar. These poll results point to heightened awareness among consumers about food and also to more prudent food purchases.

Will this translate to purchases with “sustainability labels” for other consumer products?

Once again Wal-Mart is leading the charge to change American business practices and how American consumers shop. According to Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat, Wal-Mart was one of the first retailers to understand and change supply systems. Their latest efforts are focused on helping buyers to determine the social and environmental impact of their purchases with a new labeling campaign. Wal-Mart is now developing a “sustainability index score” for each of its products by surveying about 100,000 of it suppliers. See Supplier Assessment Questions. They expect younger consumers who care about the environment to encourage the production and consumption of more earth-friendly products. Read the full story in today’s New York Times.

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