Walmart has been hitting the made-in-America theme a lot lately, including at its second annual “pitch day” at its Bentonville HQ on July 7th, when small US-based manufacturers got a chance to pitch their domestically-produced wares to the chain’s buyers.
But in its zeal to “reshore” its purchasing and fly under the “Made in the USA” banner again after a quarter century of relying on cheap goods from China and other lower-wage countries, Walmart is being accused of fudging the truth — or at least of allowing its suppliers to skirt the requirements by not demanding compliance with regulations.
US Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, has asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into whether Walmart and other retailers are selling products that are mislabeled as made in the United States when they’re actually made overseas, according to Retail Dive. The rule is that something can be labeled “made in USA” only if “all or virtually all” of it components, processing and labor are from the US.
The not-for-profit Truth in Advertising recently filed a complaint with the FTC claiming that Walmart didn’t come through on promises to correct labeling errors that the group said numbered more than 100 on it website. The chain said the notations were made in error and would be corrected, RetailDive says it’s still not addressed.
“A fraudulent ‘Made in USA’ label not only rips off those consumers paying more for what they think are American-made goods, but also the retailers and manufacturers attaching those labels in good faith,” Murphy said in his letter.
Meanwhile, Walmart itself is warning suppliers about another type of mislabeling: incorrectly representing the amount inside a package.
In the wake of an investigation by the state of New York which found widespread mislabeling of amounts of fresh goods packaged in Whole Foods Stores, Walmart last week sent a memo to hundreds of suppliers, big and small, warning them to comply with labeling laws, the Wall Street Journal said.
“This is a reminder to our suppliers to make sure their labeling matches what’s in the product,” a Walmart spokesman told the newspaper.
Any government fines for mislabeling, Walmart said, can be directed back to suppliers. “The company regularly holds compliance sessions with suppliers, but the memo offers a broad way to reinforce the rules given recent retail embarrassments,” the Journal said.