Jim Prevor's discourse may be a little bit too much inside baseball, ball, but I'm learning and I read through his posts on Walmart, produce and sustainability. Prevor is not pleased with Walmart's current system and its effects on growers. From The Perishable Pundit:
Rod Farrow’s point, though, is to note the contradiction between Wal-Mart’s self-professed desire to emphasize sustainability and its willingness to put farmers into competition with one another on an auction basis. This challenges sustainability on at least three levels: First, one can never make enough specifications to know what short-cuts people will take if they have to do so. Desperate men do desperate things, and it is almost impossible to inspect them enough to make sure the land is treated well, food safety is robust, traceability ensured, workers not abused, etc. The specifications and contractual requirements are fine, but the key to making these things happen is dealing with prosperous organizations that generate sufficient cash flow to pay for these things. If you are the biggest buyer and you beat an organization down on price, you better ask where the organization will pick up the margin. Of course, a de-facto auction system is specifically designed to avoid asking those questions, or at least to avoid having the close transparent relationship in which those questions would be honestly answered. This inevitably leads to less sustainable behavior by vendors. Second, sustainability relies heavily on a willingness to invest for the long term. Replacing all the light bulbs may pay for itself in three years, but if the facility is only needed for the Wal-Mart business and there is no assurance that one will have that business in three months, much less three years, then one will probably not make the investment. Almost by definition, sustainability requires a long term view. A long term view is incompatible with a rolling auction system. Third, if you want to be sustainable, you better decide what you want to sustain. One would think that sustaining an agricultural base and family farms would rank high up there. But, in fact, it doesn’t even seem to be a consideration.What is true in Prevor's universe is true for all Walmart suppliers. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.