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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Strategic CSR - Walmart

As part of its escalating efforts to better understand the multiple dimensions of CSR, reduce costs, and also educate its customers, Walmart recently released a new ‘Great For You’ label that it will put on its range of ‘healthy’ foods:

The article in the url below explains Walmart’s goals in introducing the new label, as well as detailing the other work the firm is doing in terms of defining ‘healthy food options’ for its customers:

Walmart has also been working with suppliers of national brands and private label products to reduce sodium, added sugar and trans fats in some 165 products it sells. Sodium, from a solution that is standard in meatpacking, for example, has been cut by more than 70 percent in fresh steaks, roasts and other muscle cuts of beef.

Importantly, the criteria the firm will use to define ‘healthy’ are recognized in the article as rigorous:

Experts on nutrition and health generally commended the standards the company established for the Great for You label. ‘The criteria are pretty strict, I’ll give them credit for that,’ said Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. ‘The label will only go on to about one-fifth of their products.’

Equally importantly, both for Walmart and for those who advocate emphasizing the business case for CSR, these policy decisions fit well within the firm’s overarching business strategy:

[The firm also] said customers who bought fruits and vegetables at Walmart last year would have spent $1 billion more buying similar products at competing stores. “We’ve been very focused on cutting costs in supply chain to help us achieve this,” said Andrea Thomas, senior vice president for sustainability at Walmart.