During the last two years, partnerships between local farms and the world's largest retailer have jumped 50 percent, and the company anticipates it will source about $400 million in local produce this year, making it the country's largest buyer of produce that is grown and sold within a state's borders.
The move will allow Wal-Mart to save millions in fuel costs. For instance, buying 12 million pounds of peaches from farms in 18 states saves the company 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel compared to its previous practice of sourcing peaces from only two suppliers, the Associated Press reported.
The company estimates more than 70 percent of its produce originates in the U.S. Produce, in general, travels an average of 1,500 miles from farms to consumers, Wal-Mart said. It plans to work with state agriculture departments to spur the revitalization of areas to grow new or native crops, such as corn in Mississippi or cilantro in South Florida.
Beyond food, the company U.S. supply base exceeds 61,000.