retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Reuters had a story late last week about how Walmart was hosting a meeting last week of some 2,000 executives from US manufacturing companies who journeyed to Arkansas "to huddle in tiny conference rooms with Walmart buyers and present products made in the US.

"Walmart's 2015 U.S. Manufacturing Summit," the story went on, "was advertised as a chance for goods producers to pitch American-made products to the retail giant. They would also get advice from Walmart executives on how to take advantage of the company's recent efforts to support more U.S. manufacturing jobs and reverse the trends its purchasing strategies and demand for low prices have driven."

However, even as Walmart was convening the meeting, there were questions raised by a self-styled "advertising watchdog" called Truth in Advertising, which said that "a number of products on Walmart’s website were accompanied by 'Made In USA' stickers despite being manufactured in foreign countries like China. The non-profit found that products including eye liner, beauty wedge applicators, and tooth whitening supplies had been labeled as 'Made in the USA' despite coming from other countries.

Kory Lundberg, Walmart's director of National Media Relations, has been quoted as saying the mistakes were the result of coding errors, not intent to deceive.

“We are undertaking a more extensive quality assurance review to help eliminate these coding errors,” he said. “Based on our initial internal review, we believe these errors are limited to a small percentage of items and we are confident in the overall integrity of the information on our website.”
According to the Truth in Advertising website, "Walmart uses a number of similar stickers for its USA products. They include Made in the USA, Made in the USA with over 90 percent parts, over 75 percent parts, over 50 percent parts and Assembled in the USA. Other companies have similar labeling ... The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has strict laws for companies that use the 'Made in USA' label. It requires that all or virtually all of a product be made in the USA to use that claim without a qualifier."

The Reuters story notes that "Walmart’s 'Made in the USA' efforts go back to 2013, when the company came under increasing pressure from unions and other critics who said its drive for low cost goods was undermining American jobs. Walmart says it wants to spend $250 billion on American-made products by 2023, and says buying from U.S. producers is good business."
KC's View:
The fastest way to sink a Made in the USA program is to not be 100 percent accurate about the products that boast this attribute. Damned right that Walmart - and every other company - ought to have an extensive quality assurance review that guarantees accuracy. If they don't, why bother? It'll just look like so much blarney to the shopper.