Wal-Mart, Safeway, Kroger among growing number of retailers turning to local produce in order to cut back on costs, cater to consumer preferences

LOS ANGELES , August 1, 2011 () – Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Safeway Inc., and Kroger Co. are among a growing number of retailers turning to local produce in order to cut back on costs and cater to consumer preferences, The Wall Street Journal reported August 1.

Most retailers making the change say it is an effort to keep up with consumer likes, although Wal-Mart and Kroger say the change saves money.

Lacking a federal definition for ‘local,’ retailers are setting their own boundaries for the term’s meaning, a practice that critics find misleading to consumers. At Wal-Mart stores, local means within 450 miles. The company has begun encouraging stores to purchase local produce even if it is more expensive, a move resulting in reduced fuel costs and spoilage. Wal-Mart has set a goal of doubling local produce sales in the U.S. to 9% by 2015, the publication stated.

At Kroger, locally grown means grown within the same state or region, while for Safeway, local produce can be reached within an eight-hour drive. Supervalu Inc., for whom the definition of local can change from store to store, says 25% to 40% of its produce is locally purchased.

Despite the growing popularity of buying local, however, some experts say that the trend will be limited by year-round consumer demand for fruits and vegetables, even when they are out of season.

The primary source of this article is The Wall Street Journal, New York, New York, on August 1, 2011.

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