Network Spotlight: Jackie Saumweber

September 26, 2017

Jackie Saumweber has served as a LAUNCH Food Council Member since March 2017. Most recently, she worked as a senior manager on Walmart's global food sustainability team. In that role, she worked with government, nonprofits and industry to develop programs that drive business and address growing social issues. She also facilitated the implementation of broader sustainability initiatives across Walmart’s private brand business, such as date labeling, packaging, and animal welfare.

As part of her role as a LAUNCH Council member, Jackie helped connect and support our Food innovators in their journey to scale. We asked her how Walmart’s sustainability work relates to nutrition and why it’s important to work across sectors to solve global challenges.

1. How would you define your role in the larger food system?

Walmart aspires to help create a more affordable, accessible, sustainable and healthier food system. To do so, we have major initiatives underway involving farmers, fisheries, agronomists, development agencies, food manufacturers, environmental nonprofits, food banks, nutritionists, schools, community groups, government agencies and producer associations, among others. We aim to use our strengths – our expertise in food production and distribution relationships with food producers and suppliers around the world, billions of dollars in food purchase orders, our stores and logistics network, as well as our philanthropy – to collaborate with others to bring about significant and lasting improvements in the food system.

2. What are three pressing food system challenges you hope to see solved in your lifetime?

Enhancing nutrition – With the rates of obesity and nutrition-related illnesses rising around the world, health advocates and officials are calling for healthier eating options and better public education on nutrition. It is important that we continue to help educate families about nutritious eating and provide tools to help them plan and eat in healthier ways. At Walmart we have developed the “Great For You” icon to help our customers instantly identify food options that are better for them. It made its debut on our Great Value and Marketside items in 2012 and also appears on fresh and packaged fruits and vegetables at Walmart stores nationwide.

Improving sustainable food production – The practice of sustainable agriculture sits at the junction of three pressing environmental issues: the need to feed a growing global population in a way that reduces GHG emissions and conserves the use of water and land. According to the United Nations and World Economic Forum, agriculture accounts for approximately 70 percent of global freshwater consumption and 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture will need to become more efficient if it is to meet the 20 percent improvement in food availability by 2025 recommended by the World Economic Forum.

Increasing access to affordable food – Even where food is plentiful, it can remain inaccessible due to lack of income, geographic barriers or because of poor distribution networks.

3. Your work touches a range of different sectors. What’s the importance of cross-sector collaboration?

It’s absolutely essential. Achieving multi-sector goals and reaching inter-industry consensus requires collaboration and collective action. In many instances, by incorporating inclusive input and reciprocal dialogue in our collaborative processes we come to discover that we share common goals and principles.

4. You’ve been a Council Member and a technical advisor for LAUNCH Food. What, to you, is the value of being a part of the LAUNCH network?

LAUNCH is a valuable convener that facilitates substantive idea sharing and innovative thinking. The network provides an opportunity for a diverse set of stakeholders, with an equally diverse set of strengths and resources, to channel their efforts towards a shared cause, with front-line innovators leading the way.

The LAUNCH Food network is a global, cross-sector coalition of stakeholders committed to creating positive change in the food system. Are you interested in joining? Email info@launch.org