Walmart: A partner of agriculture
The story of Walmart is one familiar to many. Walmart was founded in 1962 by Sam Walton, who opened the first store in Rogers, Ark. Prior to that, Walton operated a small five and dime store just down the road in Bentonville, Ark.
Today, Bentonville is where the Walmart headquarters are located. The site of the original five and dime store is now The Walmart Museum.
Walmart became a Friends of the Family Farm premium member because of the important role Fresno County farmers play in supplying the company with fresh produce.
“Walmart is one of the largest purchasers of citrus, almonds, grapes, melons and many other agricultural commodities that are produced locally [in Fresno County],” explained Walmart Vice President of Produce and Floral, Dorn Wenninger.
California and Fresno County are vital to Walmart’s success. Seeing this, the company opened a produce sourcing office in Valencia. Walmart moved employees from Bentonville to the California office. Fresno County, specifically, is important to the company because much of the produce supplied to stores throughout the United States is grown within its boundaries.
“Walmart is very committed to California and very committed to fresh produce,” said Wenninger. “I’ve personally been in Fresno many times, and I love visiting the farms.”
Walmart operates supercenters that have both general merchandise, as well as food. In the area of fresh produce, the superstores have everything that would be found at a conventional grocery store.
In the United States, there are 4,500 stores. “Products from Fresno County could end up at all of those locations,” said Wenninger. Internationally, there are 11,000 stores in 28 countries. “Some of the products, almonds in particular, make it to all of those countries in one form or another, whether it be as an ingredient or a whole product,” added Wenninger.
Worldwide, there are 2.2 million associates. In the United States, Walmart provides employment for 1.3 million individuals; in California, there are 81,000 associates. Walmart’s mission is to help people save money so they can have a better quality of life. The food grown in Fresno County is an important part of that. “It’s my job to help make produce more affordable and ensure quality to help people live better,” said Wenninger.
Walmart is unique because of the company’s size and scale. Both of these factors are used to drive efficiencies and help customers save money. In turn, this allows the company to support communities. In 2013, Walmart donated 23 million pounds of food in California.
“We like to support local communities as both a buyer of products, and as a retailer,” said Wenninger. “It’s a wonderful cycle. The employees who are helping grow and produce products are the same people who are shopping in the stores.”
Walmart is also a proud participant in the Fresno Food Expo. “I’ve personally visited and walked the halls meeting with buyers and farmers,” said Wenninger.
Walmart appreciates all that farmers and producers do for the company. In turn, the company feels a great desire to give back to the communities they’re a part of.
Growers interested in doing business with Walmart can learn more at corporate.walmart.com/suppliers.
To become an FFF premium member, contact FCFB at 559-237-0263, or visit www.cfbf.com/join.
Friends of the Family Farm Spotlight Profile: Ag Today, Nov. 15
By: Katie Rodgers