Retailing giant Wal-Mart Stores' annual shareholders' meeting this week showed signs of the company's recent turbulence, as protesters assembled at corporate headquarters to shout slogans and demands.
Despite a court-issued restraining order, the protesters, including workers who are on strike, decried low wages and called for better safety procedures for supply-chain workers. And some of their views were heard inside the meeting, as well.
The nation's largest retailer announced Monday that it will be delivering produce from farms to stores faster by buying fruits and vegetables directly from growers.
The plan is to source about 80 percent of fresh produce directly, explained Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of the food business for Wal-Mart U.S., during a conference call that we participated in Monday morning.
In many instances, Sinclair says it will be possible to "cut out the middleman," but he added that local wholesalers will continue to "play an important role for us in the areas we serve."
Wal-Mart says it has drafted its own plan for improving safety at garment factories in Bangladesh rather than join other Western retailers in a legally binding agreement to pay for improved conditions for workers in the South Asian country.