BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Nov. 29, 2006 – Wal-Mart Stores announced today that Missouri-based Western Missouri Fruit Sales 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, Western Missouri Fruit Sales 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 Missouri 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 Missouri. 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.”
Western Missouri Fruit Sales began its partnership with Wal-Mart more than 10 years ago, stocking the produce aisle with crisp, fresh and locally-grown apples. Western Missouri Fruit Sales represents two family-owned apple orchards: Peter’s Orchard and Rasa Orchard. Peter’s Orchard is close to celebrating its 100-year anniversary and Rasa has been operating since 1933.
“Wal-Mart recognizes the value of locally grown produce and providing it to their customers,” said Matt Bloomberg, partner and minority owner of Western Missouri Fruit Sales. “We’re thrilled that through our relationship with them, we’ve been able to bring more Western Missouri apples to homes throughout Missouri 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 Western Missouri Fruit Sales, Wal-Mart suppliers Critcher Bros. in North Carolina, Bushman’s Inc. in Wisconsin and Mississippi Valley Fruit Company in Minnesota are being saluted in their respective regions during the upcoming weeks.
“We take great pride in our local farms, Peter’s Orchards and Rasa Orchards through Western Missouri Fruit Sales. They are an important supplier to the agricultural industry in the state of Missouri,” said Sarah Gehring, AgriMissouri Member Services Coordinator. “Wal-Mart continues to support AgriMisouri in both produce and shelf-stable products and their commitment to our growers and producers in the state have not gone unnoticed.”
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 Missouri in FYE 2006, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. spent $5,047,450,133 for merchandise and services with 1,986 suppliers. As a result of these supplier relationships, Wal-Mart supports 94,604 supplier jobs in the state of Missouri.*
As of October 2006, Wal-Mart’s presence in Missouri includes 81 Supercenters, 36 Discount Stores and 15 SAM’S Clubs. It also has four Distribution Centers for a total of 42,089 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.
*supplier figures provided by Dun & Bradstreet
CONTACTS:Western Missouri Fruit Sales
Missouri Department of Agriculture