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    Wal-Mart Launches Store-brand Organic and Feel-good Coffees

    The mega-retailer says it's answering coffee drinkers' demands for guilt-free gourmet taste with rainforest, fair trade brews.

    Wal-Mart said yesterday it's launching six specialty coffees under the Sam's Choice brand, the first of which will hit shelves this month at $5.88 for 10-12 oz. Bags. The rollout is part of an Earth Month expansion of eco-friendly products, Wal-Mart said, and includes Fair Trade Certified House Blend, Espresso Roast, and French Roast; Rainforest Alliance Certified Breakfast Blend whole bean and ground coffee; and USDA Organic, Swiss Water Process Decaffeinated.

    The Bentonville, Ark.-based chain said All Sam's Choice coffees are made from 100 percent Arabica beans. In addition, the six Sam's Choice gourmet coffees are roasted by Cafe Bom Dia, a Brazil-based company that measured, reduced, and offset its emissions to become the world's first CarbonNeutral roaster, Wal-Mart said.

    DeDe Priest, s.v.p. and general merchandise manager for Wal-Mart, said the affordable coffee line is "sourced and roasted with sustainability in mind." She said that if each of Wal-Mart's 200 million shoppers bought one 10-oz. bag of Sam's Choice Rainforest USDA Certified organic coffee, it would prevent 133 million pounds of fertilizers and chemicals from being released into the environment.

    "We recognize our customers' desire to buy products that have a positive environmental and social impact," Priest said.

    Wal-Mart noted recent reports show demand for gourmet coffee with social benefits is skyrocketing. Fair Trade Certified coffee grew tenfold between 2001 and 2006, reaching $730 million in retail sales, according to TransFair USA, the only third-party certifier of fair trade products in the United States.

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