Nearly tripling annual investment from previous announcement
IndiaCSR News Network
HONG KONG: Walmart China announced on Tuesday that the company will significantly increase its investment in food safety to more than USD48.2 million in the years 2013, 2014 and 2015. Previously, the retailer had announced investments of over USD16 million for the same three years.
Walmart made the announcement at the kick-off for China’s 2014 National Food Safety Week while launching the Walmart campaign: “Food Safety: We all have a role to play.” The event was held at the Walmart Supercenter Jianguolu Store in Beijing.
“This increased investment reflects our growing commitment to enhance food safety management in the supply chain and in all our stores,” said Walmart China Chief Compliance Officer Paul Gallemore. “As a result, Walmart hopes to provide even greater assurance of food product quality, authenticity and safety to our customers.”
“Food safety is rooted in Walmart’s compliance culture,” said Walmart China President and CEO Sean Clarke. “We strive for our customers to have complete trust in the products they buy from us. All our efforts are aimed to ensure the authenticity, safety and quality of food for our customers in China.”
With this increased investment, Walmart will focus on several key areas to further improve food safety management over the coming years:
Increasing supplier audits and tests – The company will perform additional testing and tougher standards for suppliers in 2014, increasing DNA testing on meat products by 100 percent and facility audits and inspections of primary producers by more than 30 percent from 2013. The number of facility audits and inspections of primary producers were up 50 percent in 2013, from a year earlier.
During 2013, Walmart China performed more than 400 DNA test for meat products, close to 1,400 third party audits and inspections of farms, factories, processing centers, slaughterhouses, and more than 50,000 product tests in the company’s distribution centers.
Quality assurance through expanding fresh distribution network – Walmart now has nine fresh distribution centers across China in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Shenyang and Xiamen. These centers help improve quality control because the majority of fresh suppliers deliver once to the distribution center instead of multiple times to each store. Products are tested at the distribution center for compliance against safety and quality standards in a testing lab, ensuring consistent quality control and that unqualified products can be detected before they arrive at a store. Two additional fresh distribution centers will be added by the end of 2014, at which point Walmart distribution centers will serve every Walmart Supercenter in China. In 2013, Walmart China’s seven fresh distribution centers conducted more than 139,000 tests. In the first quarter of 2014 alone, 129,000 tests were conducted.
Global leverage to apply new technologies – Following the iPad training and mobile lab launched last year, Walmart will continue to invest and apply new technologies to improve food safety and quality control standards in stores. Later this year, Walmart is planning to introduce the “SPARK” (Sustainable Paperless Auditing and Record Keeping) system to China. This technology has been used successfully in Walmart’s US business and providing timely monitoring of food storage temperatures through Temperature Measuring Devices and that communicate wirelessly. The temperature and other measurements are automatically updated for analysis and monitoring.
Mobile labs, another innovative food safety initiative by Walmart, are being ramped up as an additional effort in protecting customers. In 2013, Walmart China’s first mobile lab conducted over 35,000 tests on food in stores in Guangdong. With the second mobile lab being launched in Shanghai at the end of last year, the two labs now serve 147 stores in Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai, and the number of tests is expected to double this year.
Enhanced in-store food safety standards and strengthened stores auditing – Walmart has conducted food safety audits in its more than 400 stores across China based on international in-store food safety standards. These audits are conducted by third party specialist agencies monthly, checking in-store cleaning, personal hygiene of associates, food processing, cooking methods and safe storage. Moreover, the company will further improve the food safety standards at Walmart supercenters and Sam’s Clubs by optimizing the design and layout of stores, strengthening pest control, expanding and improving staff training and examination.
Stronger compliance team — Walmart has developed a professional compliance team of more than 100 retail experts and is committed to developing stronger team to support compliance management in both Hypermarkets, Sam’s Club and distribution centers. In addition, Walmart will continue investing in supplier training, helping suppliers understand and comply not only with China’s regulations, but the company’s extensive and rigorous food safety policies.
To coincide with Food Safety Week and the announcement of Walmart China’s increased investment in food safety, from June 12th to June 24th, Walmart is also joining hands with China General Chamber of Commerce, suppliers and Guokr, a popular social science media outlet, to provide science information on food safety to consumers. The company will also set up interaction zones in Walmart stores in Beijing and Fuzhou to display experiments on food science so as to help customers learn more about food safety knowledge during their shopping experiences.