retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Walmart and Kellogg Company this week announced what they described as a new collaboration "to support the livelihoods of rice growers and sustainable rice growing practices around the world." Because "today's rice crops are under pressure from climate change, as well as a contributor to climate change due to methane emissions from current growing practices," Kellogg has said that it wants to "help smallholder rice growers advance their practices, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020."

Kellogg has committed "to promoting and supporting initiatives with producers in every country in which Kellogg sources rice globally, that will, by 2020, lead to a 25 percent increase in the adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices."

The announcement was made at the Walmart Sustainable Product Expo, described as "a three-day meeting with eight of the largest U.S.-based food companies" focused on "expanding the availability of products that sustain people and the environment."
KC's View:
It seems to me that we're likely to see more and more being done in this arena, and I think Walmart is smart to position itself as a kind of retail springboard from which manufacturers can launch, prove and grow environmental and sustainability initiatives. (Interesting note: President Barack Obama is supposed to visit a Walmart store in California later this week to talk about energy efficiency issues … which dovetails nicely with a lot of Walmart's priorities.)

Yesterday's National Climate Assessment, issued by the federal government, only adds fuel to the fire. As the New York Times writes…

"The effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, scientists reported Tuesday, with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects.

Such sweeping changes have been caused by an average warming of less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over most land areas of the country in the past century, the scientists found. If greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane continue to escalate at a rapid pace, they said, the warming could conceivably exceed 10 degrees by the end of this century … The report is the latest in a series of dire warnings about how the effects of global warming that had been long foreseen by climate scientists are already affecting the planet. Its region-by-region documentation of changes occurring in the United States, and of future risks, makes clear that few places will be unscathed — and some, like northerly areas, are feeling the effects at a swifter pace than had been expected."

The companies that embrace this information and act on it are likely to find themselves with a differential advantage. The ones that ignore it do so at their own peril.