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MONROVIA, Calif. - Trader Joe's, based here, has decided to stop buying grocery bags from Federal Way, Wash.-based Weyerhaeuser, a company that the environmental advocacy group Rainforest Action Network (RAN) calls "the No. 1 destroyer of old-growth forests in North America."
Traders Joe's Southern California stores had been designated by the San Francisco-based RAN as targets for a series of upoming demonstrations against the company's use of Weyerhaeuser products, according to RAN officials.
Calls to Trader Joe's yesterday were not returned.
In a statement posted on its Web site August 13, Trader Joe's says: "For some time, we have been reviewing our purchasing of paper grocery bags, among other supply items, with the goal of consolidating our purchases nationally. After careful review of our total supply chain economics, we have made the decision to consolidate our purchasing of paper bags with our current East Coast supplier. As a result of this consolidation, we are currently not issuing purchase orders to Weyerhaeuser for paper bags."
The statement does not make clear when the decision to drop Weyeheauser as a supplier was made. it does, however, briefly refer to "erroneous information" from RAN about its paper purchasing practices. "It is not surprising that the information is in error as we are a privately held company
and do not routinely disclose our business arrangements," the statement reads. It makes no mention of RAN's planned protests.
RAN's old-growth campaign director, Brant Olson, said in an interview with Progressive Grocer he found the timing of the statement "telling." Olson called the grocer "largely unresponsive" to RAN's overtures, which began via letter six months ago. According to Olson, it was this lack of response that spurred RAN's campaign to reach Trader Joe's customers directly with the petitions and planned protests, both coordinated by the organization in concert with area activists.
"From Day One we've just wanted to sit down and talk with them," he said, adding that efforts to contact Trader Joe's had been "to no avail." RAN says it is currently working with local food coops in various locations on the Weyerhaeuser issue.
According to RAN's BuyGoodWood.com Internet initiative, Weyerhaeuser has engaged in destructive logging practices in Canada's Boreal forest and around the world.
In other Trader Joe's news, the Kent Downtown Partnership is handing out postcards pre-addressed to the company, requesting that Trader Joe's open a store in Kent, Wash., according to published sources. Shoppers and business owners are being instructed to add personal comments to the cards before sending them. Last year the partnership sent the grocer a petition signed by about 4,000 people, among them shoppers from Kent,
Auburn, Covington, and Renton, requesting a store in Kent.
Trader Joe's has said that it's considering downtown Kent as a potential location for a store, but added that it was also looking at sites throughout the Puget Sound region, including Seattle and the Eastside, and that the Kent campaign would have no effect on its ultimate decision.
The partnership and city officials maintain that a Trader's Joe in Kent would help revitalize the town's central business area.
-- Bridget Goldschmidt