I just got home from the Clinton Global Initiative’s amazing annual conference in New York. As usual, it was truly enlightening and inspiring to learn about all the great work being done around the world to promote sustainability and better livelihoods. The theme this year was “Designing for Impact,” the notion that we can design products to make a difference purposefully, not just as an afterthought.
Mike Duke shared some great insights as one of the plenary speakers, which reminded me of Walmart’s unique leadership in Fair Trade, particularly in its private label brands. Sam’s Choice and Member’s Mark coffees are two innovative Fair Trade Certified coffee lines that allow millions of Walmart consumers to support better lives for small coffee farmers around the world through their everyday purchases.
Today, Walmart continues to launch new Fair Trade Certified products that are designed to have a positive social and environmental impact. This is not only the right thing to do; it’s just plain good business. When we partner with farmers who grow the high quality products that we’ve come to love – like coffee, tea, cocoa and bananas – and when we ensure that those farmers get a fair return for their harvests, we get greater supply chain security. This means we’re able to source those products reliably and sustainably for years to come – which benefits both the farmer and the end consumer.
Last year Sam’s Club was one of the first retailers to carry Fair Trade Certified bell peppers from Mexico. In that region, the average farm worker earns just $13 a day, but spends as much as $4 of that on bus fare to send their kids to school. That’s a third of their daily salary just to get to school! With Sam’s Club’s purchases of Fair Trade bell peppers, the workers set up an education fund to cover their kids’ bus fare and other school expenses. More kids in that community are now back in school, and there is renewed hope for a better future.
The easiest thing we can all do to support change like this is to buy Fair Trade Certified products. Just look for the label on a growing number of products around the store. For example, Sam’s Club recently launched Fair Trade Certified K-cups under their Daily Chef brand. They used the same high quality coffee beans you’d expect from Sam’s Club and they made it easier than ever for members to support farmers and their families. This comes on top of the many other delicious private label products that Sam’s has launched in the past year, like Banana Nut Bread, Angel Food Cake, and Dried Sweetened Cherries.
The bottom line: Walmart helps its customers to “save money and live better.” Through Fair Trade, Walmart is extending this powerful concept to suppliers – helping hardworking farmers and their families live better as well. These families are the current and future Walmart customers around the world – so it benefits everyone when these folks can live better lives, farm more sustainably, and feel a sense of hope in their own future. Fair Trade is the bridge that makes this powerful partnership possible.