BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Nov. 6, 2006 – Wal-Mart Stores announced today that Idaho-based Wada Farms will be showcased during the months of October and November 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, Wada Farms will team with Wal-Mart Stores to provide home-grown potatoes to numerous Wal-Mart Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets in the region and provide visibility to the company’s commitment to Idaho 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 Idaho. 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.”
More than 60 years ago, Frank Wada, a Japanese immigrant, and his wife moved to Idaho, where they purchased a few hundred acres and began growing potatoes. Now under the leadership of Frank’s son Albert, Wada Farms has grown to 30,000 acres of fields, making Wada Farms one of the largest potato growers in the state. With the growth of the farmland, Wada Farms expanded its operations to include its own packing and storage facilities. The 140,000 square foot packing plant employs a combination of electronic and human sorters and is one of the largest potato packing operations in Idaho.
“Wal-Mart recognizes the value of locally grown produce and providing it to their customers,” said Frank Wada, CEO of Wada Farms. “We’re thrilled that through our relationship with them, we’ve been able to bring Wada Farms potatoes to homes and tables throughout Idaho and 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 Wada Farms, Wal-Mart suppliers Mountainland Orchards in Utah, Riveridge Produce in Michigan and Ricker Hill Farm in Maine are being saluted in their respective regions during the upcoming weeks.
“Wada Farms is an important asset to the agricultural industry in the state of Idaho and worldwide,” said Pat Takasugi, Secretary of Agriculture for the state of Idaho. “As one of the top potato growers in a state known for its high quality potatoes, Wada Farms excels. We take great pride in our local farmers like the Wadas 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 Idaho in FYE 2006, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. spent $267,121,967 for merchandise and services with 322 suppliers. As a result of these supplier relationships, Wal-Mart supports 17,336 supplier jobs in the state of Idaho.*
As of October 2006, Wal-Mart’s presence in Idaho includes 14 Supercenters, 3 Discount Stores and 1 SAM’S CLUBS, for a total of 6,883 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.
*supplier figures provided by Dun & Bradstreet