By Tom Karst
The Packer
January 13, 2015

ORLANDO, Fla. — With both Wal-Mart and Whole Foods moving aggressively to measure sustainability of their suppliers, Jeff Dlott believes meeting expectations of buyers can be both a requirement for doing business and a market opportunity for produce marketers.

“Don’t kill the messenger, but sustainability is becoming a requirement in major markets,” said Dlott, president and CEO of SureHarvest, Soquel, Calif., at a workshop at the 2015 Potato Expo on Jan. 8.

He urged suppliers to be clear on their target markets and align their strategy accordingly.

The “Responsibly Grown” program of Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods — introduced last October — and the yet to be revealed Sustainability Index approach of Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart were the focus of Dlott’s presentation.

Wal-Mart plans to roll out sustainability benchmarking with top suppliers in the first quarter of 2015, Dlott said. The Sustainability Consortium — a global group of retailer, trade groups and non-government organizations — is working on guidance to help suppliers with the questions Wal-Mart is asking. Dlott said the process will be challenging to all involved.

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