Wal-Mart To Voluntarily Participate in COOL
By George Anderson
Wal-Mart plans to voluntarily comply with country of origin labeling (COOL) well before it is required by the government on Sept. 30, 2006, according to a cover story report
in the Feb. 2 issue of The Packer.
The retailer plans to begin moving to COOL by developing protocols to trace all perishables it purchases.
Bruce Peterson, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of perishables for Wal-Mart, told the industry trade publication, “By the end of this year, we will be able
to say with certainty that we know precisely where things come from.”
Mr. Peterson said retailers should be moving ahead with COOL while the industry joins together to remove some of the more burdensome aspects of compliance.
Matt McInerney, executive vice president, Western Growers agrees with Wal-Mart’s Peterson. “I applaud Wal-Mart, in particular Bruce, for his foresight and endeavor to move the
process along. Now’s the time to concentrate on how, collaboratively, suppliers with their retail partners can look at initiatives and programs to provide data to consumers.”
Moderator’s Comment: Does Wal-Mart’s efforts in COOL give it a competitive advantage
over other retailers?
While much debate remains over the actual purpose of COOL, many in this industry would argue it is simply a marketing program for U.S. agricultural interests
with little to no benefit in protecting the food supply. Wal-Mart’s move can only be seen as a positive by those who matter most — the shoppers who buy perishables in its stores.
Anderson – Moderator