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Minnesota-Based Mississippi Valley Fruit Company Teams with Wal-Mart to Celebrate America's Farmers

National Program Salutes Locally Grown Agriculture


BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Nov. 29, 2006 – Wal-Mart Stores announced today that Minnesota-based Mississippi Valley Fruit Company will be showcased during the months of November and December in conjunction with the company’s Salute to America’s Farmers program.  Salute to America’s Farmers, launched in September, is a year-long campaign to spotlight Wal-Mart’s commitment to purchase from local growers for distribution to stores in their areas in support of locally grown agricultural products. Throughout the next several weeks, Mississippi Valley will team with Wal-Mart Stores to provide home-grown apples to numerous Wal-Mart Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets in the region and provide visibility to the company’s commitment to Minnesota agriculture and growers around the country.

“Wal-Mart buys more United States agricultural products than any other retailer in the world and we’re proud to introduce Salute to America’s Farmers as a tribute to our country’s growers, underscoring our company-wide commitment to farmers across the United States,” said Bruce Peterson, Wal-Mart Stores senior vice president, perishable food division. “We understand that consumers want to purchase quality products that help support the local economy and we’re proud of our ability to bring wholesome, home-grown selections to our customers in Minnesota. This commitment not only allows us to offer fresh, quality selections but also generate savings on distribution costs that we can pass on to our customers.”

Mississippi Valley Fruit Company, based in Elgin, Minn., was formed by Fred Wescott, Sam Hector and Fred Sandvick in 1998, because the founders recognized the need to create a joint venture for regional apple growers. Today, Mississippi Valley Fruit Company represents more than 25 regional growers who grow, pack and market under one label. The company has supplied Wal-Mart with apples for almost six years.

“We appreciate Wal-Mart’s recognition of the value of locally grown produce and the necessity of having these products in their stores,” said Fred Wescott, President of Mississippi Valley Fruit Company. “It is important to us as growers and to our communities that we are able to get more Mississippi Valley Fruit Company apples to homes throughout Minnesota and the surrounding areas.”

Wal-Mart launched the Salute to America’s Farmer program in September and each month will showcase one local grower from each of four states.  Local farmers and growers in all 50 states will be spotlighted throughout the upcoming year. During each state’s showcased month, consumers can identify local produce via corresponding signage in local Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets.  In addition to Mississippi Valley Fruit Company, Wal-Mart suppliers Critcher Bros. in North Carolina, Bushman’s Inc. in Wisconsin and Western Missouri Fruit Sales in Missouri are being saluted in their respective regions during the upcoming weeks.
 
“Mississippi Valley Fruit Company is an important supplier to the agricultural industry in the state of Minnesota,” said Paul Sand, Minnesota Global Food Merchandiser. “We take great pride in our local farmers and appreciate Wal-Mart’s continued support and commitment toward the growers and producers in our state.” 

Wal-Mart’s relationships with U.S. suppliers extend beyond its support of local agriculture. In 2005, Wal-Mart spent $200 billion on merchandise through its relationship with 61,000 U.S. suppliers.  In the state of Minnesota in FYE 2006, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. spent $3,189,657,957 for merchandise and services with 1,245 suppliers.  As a result of these supplier relationships, Wal-Mart supports 121,982 supplier jobs in the state of Minnesota.*

As of October 2006, Wal-Mart’s presence in Minnesota includes 25 Supercenters, 28 Discount Stores and13 SAM’S Clubs. It also has one Distribution Center for a total of 17,910 associates.

About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Every week, more than 127 million customers visit Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Clubs across America.  The company and its Foundation are committed to a philosophy of giving back locally.  Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) is proud to support the causes that are important to customers and associates right in their own neighborhoods, and last year gave more that $245 million to local United States communities.  To learn more, visit www.walmartfacts.com, www.walmart.com, or www.walmartfoundation.org.

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*supplier figures provided by Dun & Bradstreet

CONTACTS:

Mississippi Valley Fruit Co.
Fred Wescott
(507) 876-2891

Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Paul Sand
(651) 201-6654