BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Dec. 14, 2006 – Wal-Mart Stores announced today that Pennsylvania-based Rice Fruit Co. will be showcased during the months of December and January 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, Rice Fruit Co. will team with Wal-Mart Stores to highlight home-grown apples available in Wal-Mart Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets in the region and provide visibility to the company’s commitment to Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania. 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.”
Rice Fruit Co., located in Adams County, Pa., has been in operation since 1913. It is managed by four brothers who represent the third generation of the Rice family to run the business. The company packs apples for more than 50 family farms located primarily in South-Central Pennsylvania. It is the largest packer of fresh apples in the East. Over the years Rice Fruit Co. has established itself as an innovator and technological leader in the apple industry and has been an important regional produce supplier to Wal-Mart for more than 10 years. Rice Fruit Co. supplies Wal-Mart with more than 10 million pounds of apples annually, including Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji and Empire varieties. Rice Fruit Co. also supplies Wal-Mart with Pennsylvania-grown peaches and pears in season.
“Wal-Mart recognizes the value and desirability of providing locally grown produce to their customers,” said John Rice, president of Rice Fruit Co. “We are highly gratified, because of our relationship with Wal-Mart, to be able to bring more locally grown apples, peaches and pears to homes throughout Pennsylvania and our 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 Pennsylvania, Wal-Mart suppliers Triple T Farm and Greenhouse, LLC in Kentucky, Turkey Knob Growers in Virginia and Arrowhead Farms in Alabama are being saluted in their respective regions during the upcoming weeks.
“The Rice Fruit Company, a PA Preferred™ member company, is an important producer and supplier to the agricultural industry in the state of Pennsylvania,” said Frank Jurbala, Marketing Representative for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. “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. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc spent $4,669,514,717 for merchandise and services with 2,436 suppliers in the state of Pennsylvania in FYE 2006. As a result of these supplier relationships, Wal-Mart supports 158,511 supplier jobs in Pennsylvania.
As of October 2006, Wal-Mart’s presence in Pennsylvania includes 72 Supercenters, 46 Discount Stores and 23 SAM’S Clubs. It also has five Distribution Centers for a total of 48,959 associates.
About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
Every week, more than 127 million customers visit Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club locations 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 than $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