BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Sept. 27, 2006 – Wal-Mart Stores announced today that Illinois-based Frey Farms will be showcased during the months of September and October in conjunction with the company’s Salute to America’s Farmers program. Salute to America’s Farmers, launched this month, 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, Frey Farms will team with Wal-Mart Stores to provide home-grown, hand-cultivated pumpkins to numerous Wal-Mart Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets in the region and provide visibility to the company’s commitment to Illinois agriculture and growers around the country.
“As the largest buyer of United States agricultural products in the world, Wal-Mart is 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 Illinois. 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.”
Sarah Frey-Talley has been running the family-owned and -operated Frey Farms in Wayne County, Ill., since the early 1980’s. A certified Women’s Business Enterprise, Frey Farms is known for its pumpkins, melons and fall ornamentals and is also a year-round supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables. Sarah is a ten-year Wal-Mart partner, tracing back to when she convinced a district manager to start buying melons for ten local stores. Today, she shares the company with her four brothers and has grown it into a national produce supplier, selling more than one million pumpkins a year to Wal-Mart.
Sarah’s financial success has been highlighted in a Harvard Business School case study and she has been featured on CNN and CNBC programs to discuss her rapid growth as an independent farmer. She has also been featured in a Wal-Mart television spot that can be viewed on www.walmartfacts.com.
“Wal-Mart recognizes the value of locally grown produce and providing it to their customers,” said Sarah Frey-Talley, CEO of Frey Farms Produce. “We’re thrilled that through our relationship with them, we’ve been able to bring more Frey Farm pumpkins and holiday cheer to homes throughout Illinois and surrounding areas.”
Wal-Mart launched the Salute to America’s Farmer program this month and will showcase a local grower each from four states monthly. 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 Frey Farms, Orchard Dale Fruit Farm in New York State is being saluted during the upcoming weeks as a grower and provider of apples to Wal-Mart customers in their region.
“Frey Farms is an important grower to the agricultural industry in the state of Illinois,” said Chuck Hartke, Illinois Agriculture Director. “It’s among the top pumpkin producers in the largest pumpkin producing state in the country. We take great pride in our local farmers like the Freys 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 Illinois in FYE 2006, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. spent $12,150,131,007 for merchandise and services with 2,704 suppliers. As a result of these supplier relationships, Wal-Mart supports 157,243 supplier jobs in the state of Illinois.*
As of August 2006, Wal-Mart’s presence in Illinois includes 55 Supercenters, 78 Discount Stores and 28 SAM’S CLUBS. It also has four Distribution Centers for a total of 45,425 associates.
About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
Every week, more than 176 million customers visit Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, SAM’S Clubs or a subsidiary location in 15 countries around the world. In each of the countries where Wal-Mart operates, the company and its Foundation are committed to a philosophy of operating globally and 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 than $270 million to these local communities. To learn more, visit www.walmartfacts.com, www.walmart.com or www.walmartfoundation.org.