Part of Wal-Mart’s new image is to try and support the local community. They strive to offer 9% of their groceries to be from local farmers right now and claim that by 2013 they will increase it to 30%. By 2017, they want to have 100% of their food from local areas. Initially, this appears to be a great philanthropy project to improve the negative image Wal-Mart has had. However, the way they are making this happen offers skepticism.
Wal-Mart plans to put money into the local farms to increase their size in order to help them produce enough product to fill the demand of the local Wal-Mart store. Once again, on the surface, this seems reasonable. However, we can all imagine what will happen as more money is invested into the farms and Wal-Mart slowly has more stake in the way they are run. Just like when anyone begins putting money into a business, the money provides them with some sort of power toward decision making. Now think about Wal-Mart cold calling up a local farm, making a deal with them, and spending a large amount of money to get more farm equipment, more space, and more product so that they can be guaranteed to get the amount of groceries they need from the farm.
As Wal-Mart begins to change more things about their image in the future, it is not unthinkable that they could begin asking those local farmers to change things about their methods to match Wal-Mart. Then all of this will just become a never ending cycle of changes, until fifty years from now, those local farms don’t even resemble what they started out as. At that point, can you even consider them local anymore? Wal-Mart could be taking the “local” out of our local.