BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Nov. 6, 2006 – Wal-Mart Stores announced today that Michigan-based Riveridge Produce 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, Riveridge Produce will team with Wal-Mart Stores to provide home-grown apples and fresh cider to numerous Wal-Mart Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets in the region and provide visibility to the company’s commitment to Michigan 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 Michigan. 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.”
Founded in 1990, Riveridge Produce is made up of two divisions – a privately-held farm that grows multiple varieties of apples and retail packing operation that handles approximately one-third of Michigan’s annual apple crop. Riveridge was one of the first to use place stickers on individual apples, allowing retailers and customers to differentiate among different varieties. Riveridge has also been a leader in introducing new varieties of apple to the retail market and encouraging regional farmers to produce both traditional and new varieties.
“Wal-Mart recognizes the value of locally grown produce and providing it to their customers,” said Don Armock, president of Riveridge Produce. “We’re thrilled that through our relationship with them, we’ve been able to bring more Riveridge apples and cider to homes throughout Michigan 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 Riveridge Produce, Wal-Mart suppliers Wada Farms in Idaho, Mountainland Orchards in Utah and Ricker Hill Farm in Maine are being saluted in their respective regions during the upcoming weeks.
“Riveridge Produce continues to be a leading champion in the promotion of Michigan’s quality agricultural products,” said Mitch Irwin, director of Michigan Department of Agriculture. “We take great pride in our agriculture industry and appreciate Wal-Mart’s commitment to providing market opportunities for the growers and producers who support its growth.”
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 Michigan in FYE 2006, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. spent $3,406,617,146 for merchandise and services with 1,569 suppliers. As a result of these supplier relationships, Wal-Mart supports 62,373 supplier jobs in the state of Michigan.*
As of October 2006, Wal-Mart’s presence in Michigan includes 44 Supercenters, 35 Discount Stores and 25 SAM’S CLUBS. It also has two Distribution Centers for a total of 28,898 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