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NAMA has formed a coalition with the American Bakers Association and the National Association of Wheat Growers to respond to the sustainability surveys of Walmart. Multiple meetings have been held, including face-to-face discussions with Walmart’s sustainability managers at the October 2013 meeting of the NAMA Technical Committee.

The grower/miller/baker coalition has developed a plan for responding to the Walmart surveys and is in the process of executing it. NAMA has written questions that NAWG is distributing to individual growers. The hope is that, instead of dealing in generalities, the responses will illuminate all parties on real-world grower decisions and their implications.

In the recent meeting in Arkansas, Walmart’s sustainability manager told the NAMA Technical Committee members the retailer believes:

  • There are many different definitions of sustainability and thus interacting on the topic can be challenging.
  • We don’t believe in making prescriptive demands, only in continuous improvement.
  • We need GM food, there is no other way we will meet the food production challenge.
  • There will be a very small niche (non-GM) for customers who want a different choice.
  • We oppose GM labeling except for organic foods. GM labeling would be a costly and complex nightmare.
  • We are frustrated with environmental activists and their positions on GM food.
  • Walmart is focusing on optimization of fertilizer use in commodity production to help the company meet its goal of eliminating 20 million MT of green house gases.
  • Walmart prefers its own surveys and the framework of The Sustainability Consortium over the Field to Market approach that is focused on measurement and thus is backward looking.

Walmart’s sustainability initiative utilizes the frameworks of The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), which hosted the NAMA Technical Committee meeting in Fayetteville. TSC’s food and agriculture director told the committee members that progress in sustainability has been made, but TSC aims to “change the slope of the curve.”

TSC has developed category profiles for more than 100 products from all sectors, including grains, bread, breakfast cereal and beer from the food sector. The elements of TSC’s lifecycle and product category approach are:

  • Multi-stakeholder reach
  • Tools must be practical
  • Opportunities for innovation must be actionable
  • Economic benefits must be feasible

NAMA Sustainability Principles

A description of the milling industry’s sustainability efforts is available from the NAMA website. The site is complete with a detailed discussion of where NAMA stands on these sustainability principles:

  • Biotechnology
  • Reform of the Conservation Reserve Program
  • Reduced Usage of Chemical Fumigants
  • Supply Chain Efficiencies
  • Processing Efficiencies

For more information, go to at https://www.namamillers.org/issues/sustainability/


Prepared by Jim Bair, Vice President, 202.484.2200, ext. 14, [email protected]

Last updated October 2013

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