Fresh from Bentonville, here is a piece of news… Ron McCormick, longtime Vice President/DMM of Produce & Floral at Wal-Mart, has been reassigned to a new position focusing on local purchasing and sustainability.
We are not precisely sure what this new job will entail and no replacement has been named yet, though Wal-Mart has been hot on sustainability for some time and Ron has shown interest in the subject.
We ran a piece on a discussion he gave on Wal-Mart’s pursuit of “Heritage Agriculture” that you can read here.
We also have worked with Ron for several years as he chaired the PMA Packaging Council that supervised the PMA Impact Awards for Excellence in Packaging, on which we have been honored to serve as a judge. A not-insignificant portion of this competition focuses on sustainability issues.
Ron has from time to time tried to speak to the industry, as in this interview where he tried to clarify a reorganization of Wal-Mart’s produce procurement operation — though his public outreach became less frequent when there were management changes, and keeping the trade informed became less of a priority.
Ron’s departure from his position is really the end of an era. Ron was brought in by Bruce Peterson, who knew him from their days together at Meijer and — although in recent years the two had only sporadic contact, and many vendors felt they were very different people with different philosophies and attitudes — symbolically at least Ron’s presence was a lineal connection to Bruce Peterson, the man who built the produce operation at Wal-Mart from virtually nothing to the biggest in the world.
We, of course, wish Ron well in his new endeavors and now we have a new question for the industry to ponder: Who ought to sit in what is arguably the single most important produce-specific position on the planet earth?