Wal Mart offers a webcast link to its sustainability milestone meeting on March 17. I haven't watched the webcast yet, but one piece of news from the meeting references Wal-Mart's local sourcing efforts.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Wal Mart committed to ramp up its effort on sustainable agriculture. In particular, WSJ reported that WM would increase its food sourced from small and medium sized farmers by 2015. What's more, the Journal reported the global retail giant plants to eventually double the local produce it sells to 10% of the fruits and vegetables it sells in the U.S.
I don't think Wal Mart does this if it cannot leverage this in the marketing arena, notwithstanding the feel good corporate goals of sustainability.
They are creating more work for their staff and stores to deal with smaller growers, to educate and train them in food safety, handling, etc. That's 180 degrees different from the normal corporate goals of efficiency and scale, the thought that big begats big.
Wal Mart's will only be successful if they can "sell" the idea that this commitment to "local agriculture" is good for the community, farmer, consumers and shareholders. For that to happen, Wal Mart needs to increase transparency and provide more media access to all involved in the effort.