National Editor Tom Karst
National Editor Tom Karst

This is the year to be tweeting at PMA. With the hashtag #freshsummit, you can keep apprised of what is going on, real-time throughout the exhibit hall.

This morning I have  been following #freshsummit tweets about the 5K race for talent, the pending speech by Eric Wahl, and more. 

Kudos to PMA for making free wifi available throughout the exhibit hall, greatly enable easier tweeting and social media buzz.

The #freshsummit tweets are also a great way to pick up new Twitter accounts to follow. My twitter account is @tckarst.


Saw a couple of guys from Wal-Mart at the opening reception last night, discussion the recent moves within the produce division leadership of Wal-Mart and also the company's work on sustainability.

Check out the recent Wal-Mart announcement on the global sustainability index here. From that Oct. 25 release:

 The commitments outlined today include:

    By the end of 2017, Walmart will buy 70 percent of the goods it sells in U.S. stores and in U.S. Sam’s Clubs only from suppliers in the United States, China, and around the world who use the Index to evaluate and share the sustainability of their products. This change will involve suppliers who produce goods in categories where the Index is available.

    Beginning in 2013, Walmart will use the Sustainability Index to influence the design of its U.S. private brand products.

    Walmart will change the way its key global sourcing merchants are evaluated so that sustainability becomes an even more important part of buyers’ day-to-day jobs. Beginning in 2013, these buyers will join key buyers in Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club who already have specific sustainability objectives on their annual evaluations.

    The Walmart Foundation will grant $2 million to fund The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) and assist in its efforts in launching TSC in China. TSC is an independent research organization. Using the Walmart Foundation grant, TSC China will engage industries, universities and other experts to form a global network of leaders improving sustainability in consumer goods, and will provide tools and resources to help suppliers become more sustainable and competitive. Walmart will use the results of TSC's independent work to refine its Sustainability Index for use in China.

Later in the release:


Walmart has rolled out the Sustainability Index, which measures product sustainability using metrics developed by TSC, to more than 100 categories. Merchandise buyers from Walmart U.S., Sam’s Club, and Walmart Canada are now using the Sustainability Index in regular buying decisions. More than 500 suppliers have participated in the Sustainability Index, representing an average of 70 percent of sales within the categories Walmart is currently evaluating with the Sustainability Index. Walmart expects to expand the use of the Index to an additional 100 product categories by the end of 2012.

And from the fact sheet on sustainability:


Walmart is using the information from the produce Index to help growers increase crop yields, reduce inputs, lower costs and strengthen sustainable farming practices.

Suppliers are using the Index to monitor their year-over-year progress in their sustainability efforts.


TK: I'm curious as to the amount of "buy-in" for measuring sustainability there is in the fresh produce growing community, especially relative to use of the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops - and how that data may be useful for Wal-Mart. Still a tremendously long way to go in my view, an extended period of time before buyers will be judged on how their produce suppliers meet sustainability goals.