Cracker Barrel on Regulating Responsibility

Business and the Environment

Sustainability Index: Nicely played, Wal-Mart.

Well, done, Wal-Mart. Don’t change the way you act until the consumer wills it. Take a stand by not taking a stand. Let the market decide.

As Wal-Mart is doing with consumer products, it will begin asking agricultural producers questions about water, fertilizer and chemical use. The eventual goal is to include that information in a sustainability index.

Customers would see sustainability ratings, so they could decide whether to choose one avocado over another based on how efficiently it was grown and shipped. Wal-Mart could use index information when it decided from whom to buy. — NYTimes

This strategy puts the onus of control with the consumer.  Wal-Mart gets to look good by offering the index and not buying from those who consumers do not care as much for.  Wal-Mart also gets to make money, not by taking a stand on sustainable agriculture but by only selling what its customers are interested in.

Pure genius.

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