2Bits: The Walmart farm–your new next door neighbor!
The more dominant Walmart becomes, the fewer opportunities there will be for farmers’ markets, food co-ops, and neighborhood grocery stores.
Walmart—farming? Sure—it’s all about supply chain control. Walmart is going head to head with Amazon. Amazon is the king of supply chain logistics. Walmart must find innovative ways to compete.
Will Walmart be a “beginning farmer,” learning as they go? We don’t think so.
They’re taking calculated steps to move into farming. Expect large well-managed factory farms.
Walmart is aggressively creating technology to automate farm production tasks with drones, increasing convenience and transparency for shoppers, re-defining consumer expectations of the word “local.”
It’s all about controlling the supply chain.
- Applied for 6 patents targeting farm automation. These patents include pest identification, crop damage monitoring, pesticide application, and crop pollination.
- Committed $477M to the “grocery war”. This includes remodeling 500 stores, opening 20 new locations, and revamping produce departments while widening aisles.
- Expanded grocery store pickups. Walmart is adding Express Scan & Go towers for in-store buying and Pickup Towers for online pickup,
- Purchased delivery start-up: Parcel, start-up purchased by Walmart, and a potential smart lock partnership would allow delivery staff to unload groceries directly into shoppers refrigerators when they’re not at home.
Walmart may or may not fully own and manage its’ own farms in the near future.
However, Walmart wants to differentiate its food offerings. Increasing involvement in agriculture, improving the transparency and sustainability of its food supply chains; and reducing inconsistent crop yields are all a part of their plan.
The end-result of this?
Expectations of locally-raised food will eventually be impacted. Walmart will be hi-tech, convenient and low priced. Small and mid-sized farmers will see a reduced customer base. This makes it harder for farmers to have a sustainable farm-based income.