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Indiana's Melon Acres Teams with Wal-Mart to Celebrate America's Farmers

National Program Salutes Hoosier Asparagus Farmer


BENTONVILLE, Ark. – May 16, 2007 – Wal-Mart Stores announced today that Indiana-based Melon Acres, Inc. will be showcased during the month of May in conjunction with the company’s Salute to America’s Farmers program.  Salute to America’s Farmers spotlights Wal-Mart’s commitment to purchase from local growers for distribution to stores in their areas in support of locally grown agricultural products.

Melon Acres of Oaktown, about 70 miles southwest of Indianapolis,  will team with Wal-Mart Stores to provide Hoosier home-grown fresh asparagus to numerous Wal-Mart Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets in the region and provide visibility to the company’s commitment to Hoosier 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, Ron McCormick, Wal-Mart Stores vice president, produce/floral 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 Indiana. 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.”

Melon Acres is owned and operated by the Horrall family which is now entering its third generation of south-western Indiana farmers.  The company started in 1976 primarily selling cantaloupe and watermelons.  It has been a leader in agribusiness innovation, and one of the first to introduce forced air cooling of melons which preserves the field-fresh flavour.
 
Melon Acres will sell about 55,000 pounds of asparagus to Wal-Mart.
“Wal-Mart knows how important it is to provide locally grown products for their customers,” said, Lucinda Rodrick of Melon Acres.  “Wal-Mart is a major factor in our communities. When people say they’re going out to buy food, it really means they’re going to Wal-Mart.”

For Robert Atkinson, a Melon Acres manager, it also means providing local customers a choice between Indiana grown product instead of imports from other countries or regions.  “With Wal-Mart’s delivery system, our product can be in the Wal-Mart coolers in one or two days as opposed to six to seven days for imports.  That means a large difference in the quality and flavour of the asparagus.”

“Melon Acres is a good example of the many farms that provide nourishing food to Hoosiers and support our state’s economy,” said Andy Miller, Indiana agriculture director. “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 launched the Salute to America’s Farmer program in September of last year and during the months following is showcasing local growers from states around the country.  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 Indiana’s Melon Acres, Liuzza Produce in Louisiana, Eubanks Produce in Mississippi and Sunny Ridge in Florida are being saluted in their respective regions during the upcoming weeks.

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 2006, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc spent $2,277,791,647 for merchandise and services with 1,558 Indiana suppliers. As a result of Wal-Mart’s relationship with these suppliers, Wal-Mart supports 93,857 supplier jobs in the state of Indiana.*

As of May of 2007, Wal-Mart’s presence in Indiana includes 76 Supercenters, 19 Discount Stores, 16 SAM’S Club and four Neighborhood Market locations.  It also has seven distribution centers for a total of 38,258 associates.

Click here to learn more about Wal-Mart in Indiana

About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
Every week, millions of customers visit Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club locations across America or log on to its online store at www.walmart.com.  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 $270 million to local communities in the United States. To learn more, visit www.walmartfacts.com, www.walmartstores.com, or www.walmartfoundation.org.

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*supplier figures provided by Dun & Bradstreet