by Jana Branch
- Wal-Mart’s multipronged healthy food initiative, announced January 20, 2011, concentrates the retailer’s mega-muscle on providing healthier food options at affordable prices.
- In concert with First Lady Michelle Obama’s focus on health, Wal-Mart’s approach is both CSR- and retail-driven. A tsunami of R&D, supply chain and packaged food innovation is expected as thousands of packaged products are reformulated to Wal-Mart’s guidelines, notably with salt and sugar reductions.
- Packaging, take note: Wal-Mart wants to solve the nagging problem of an easy front-of-package icon to signal healthier foods. No system has had enough oomph to get widespread adoption — yet.
- Food deserts and education nutrition programs are also on the ambitious agenda with goals tied to 2015 — four short years away.
WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS
- CFLs. Reduced packaging. Low-priced generics. Wal-Mart has more leverage to move markets than a slew of NGOs and government regulations. Now watch them do it again.
- While the initiative won’t solve all of America’s health problems, it promises to benefit consumers who need it most: low-income and under-served areas. And while society wrestles with stickier questions and tougher answers, consumers are seeing this as a step in the right direction.
- For food suppliers and manufacturers, there’s no time like the present to fire up those innovation engines.
- Visit the Wal-Mart Stores’ Healthier Foods microsite to read about the plan and view a webcast announcing the plan.