The nation’s largest retailer and grocer enters the organic food rush.
For consumers put off by the higher costs of organic food, change has finally come.
Walmart has announced a deal to put its size and power behind Wild Oats organic products, offering the brand at affordable prices, likely sending shockwaves through the organic marketplace as more food producers and retailers seek to gain a foothold in the market.
Through the partnership, Wild Oats products will be priced at same level as conventional grocery items and at least 25 percent lower than brand-name organic foods—based on price comparisons with 26 national labels.
The line of organic products will be available starting this month in about 2,000 Walmart stores (and on the retailer’s Web site) before being rolled out to its more than 4,000 locations across the U.S.
“We’re removing the premium associated with organic groceries,” Walmart executive vice president of grocery Jack Sinclair told reporters, noting that internal research conducted by the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer showed 91 percent of its shoppers would considering purchasing organic products at Walmart, if they were reasonably priced.
Wild Oats once operated its own chain of grocery stores before being acquired by Whole Foods in 2007. In 2009, after a lengthy legal battle, federal antitrust regulators forced Whole Foods to divest its holdings, resulting in the closure of Wild Oats’ stores.
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As long as they keep it truly organic and don’t present something as organic when it actually isn’t, but it’s a good indication that grocers are seeing the demand growing. (I personally stopped shopping at Walmart some time ago and it will take more than one brand of organic to get me back)
While affordable organic food is needed I kind of doubt that the Walmart business model is in the long run going to lead to good things.
What do you mean when you say their business model?
Getting people to compete downwardly: potential suppliers compete against each other to get into the Walmart distribution network. The typical strategies to meet price restrictions are to pay their workers less and less or to cut product quality, and/or worker/consumer health & safety standards.
Another problem is the supply lines go global. Pieces of a particular product come from all over the globe. This increases our dependence on shipping and the use of fossil fuels.
I checked out the Wild Oats site. They seem to offer pretty much all processed foods rather than whole foods leaving me even more dubious about the value of Walmart trying to enter (again) the realm of organic food.
There are so many better ways to get affordable healthy food. Community gardens, urban patchwork farms, growing your own and farmers markets are all options. In my community people can even use their food stamps at the local farmers’ market. I just think it is time to stop supporting and to rethink the entire Walmart system
Thank you for the detailed explanation Debra. I guess that there is a lot to consider if we truly want to buy what’s best for ourselves and the communities and world we live in.
I think I have taken so much for granted. The more I look into the behind the scenes ways of things the more I realize change needs to happen.
Wild Oats was owned by Whole Foods, so the products are going to be the real deal. But why does everyone hate Walmart so much? Because they’re a big company that does things like almost every large entity in corporate America?
Now, can Walmart just pay their associates a living wage?