MADISON, CONN. January 20, 2021 – With two years to go on a 10-year commitment to purchase $250 billion in products supporting American jobs, a new investigation by truthinadvertising.org (TINA.org) into the world’s largest retailer has found that the company is trying to redefine the Federal Trade Commission’s legal standard for made in the USA to one that is not consistent with current law. Based on evidence found as a result of the investigation, the ad watchdog filed a complaint with the FTC urging the agency to put an end to Walmart’s deceptive made in the USA claims once and for all.
The retail giant is no stranger to problematic American-made claims. In 2013, Walmart launched its American Jobs initiative, promising a multibillion-dollar investment into products that support American manufacturing. Just two years later in 2015, a TINA.org investigation found that the company’s website was riddled with deceptive made in USA claims and reported its findings to the FTC. The agency closed its inquiry after receiving assurances from Walmart that it had cleaned up all false and deceptive made in the USA claims on its website and put in place procedures to flag any future misrepresentations.
Now Walmart is getting even bolder – trying to redefine the MUSA standard altogether. The company’s “Made in America” ad campaign has been airing on national television, promoted on social media, and is featured on an “America At Work” landing page on its website, suggesting that “made” in America means “produced,” “grown,” “assembled” or “sourced” in the USA. This definition is much broader than the FTC’s, which calls for products marketed as made in the USA or made in America to be “all or virtually all” made in the United States, meaning they contain no – or negligible – foreign content.
Furthermore, consumers using the “Shop Now, Find American-Made Products on Walmart.com” link on the landing page are led to another page that lists approximately 2,000 products that are – presumably – American-made. However, TINA.org’s investigation found a number of them, everything from foot cream to bath towels, do not meet the FTC’s unqualified made in the USA standard.
“Walmart’s history of deceptive Made in USA marketing claims on its website now spans more than five years and is exacerbated by consumers’ current need and desire to shop online during the global pandemic,” according to TINA.org’s executive director Bonnie Patten. “Obviously, as the world’s largest retailer, the company’s continuing failure to address these issues cannot be related to a lack of resources or sophistication.”
Interest in made in the USA products has only grown since Walmart first launched its American jobs initiative, particularly during the pandemic, which has raised supply chain and country-of-origin concerns among consumers. Based on its own data, Walmart claims that “Made in USA is a strong driver of purchase decisions – 2nd only to Price” and that “85% of moms said it is important for a retailer to sell “Made in USA” products.” And with the incoming Biden administration proposing a $700 billion “Buy American” campaign, rest assured that Walmart will continue to push products that it says are American-made, whether or not that is true.
To read more about TINA.org’s investigation of Walmart’s deceptive made in the USA marketing, see: https://truthinadvertising.org/tina-org-brings-walmarts-deceptive-made-in-usa-claims-to-the-ftc-again/