| June 3
June 3 Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on
Monday it is offering a money-back guarantee on the fruits and
vegetables it sells at its Walmart U.S. stores as it tries to
gain more ground in the grocery business.
Walmart is the largest grocer and seller of produce in the
United States. It has already lowered prices on produce as it
tries to get its shoppers, many of whom are on limited budgets,
to buy more healthy fare. Now, it is working on getting fresher
produce to its stores more quickly and training its staff to do
a better job of selling the goods.
Walmart is able to cut the time it takes to get produce into
stores by buying directly from growers and relying on its own
distribution centers and trucking systems. It has produce
experts working with farmers in key growing regions and aims to
double its sales of locally grown produce by December 2015.
Buying more local produce and cutting supply chain costs
have helped Walmart keep a lid on prices, which has been key in
its push to stay ahead of rivals that include traditional
grocers such as Kroger Co and drugstores such as Walgreen
Co. Walmart started to see sales gains in produce
earlier this year after it began making improvements in produce
Other chains, such as Safeway Inc and Texas' H-E-B,
have already offered guarantees on their produce, but Walmart's
push will be the biggest as it is the nation's biggest retailer.
Walmart customers not satisfied with the produce can bring
their receipt back to the store for a refund. Walmart said the
shoppers will not need to bring back the produce to qualify.
To ensure that fresh produce makes it to the stores, Walmart
said unnamed third-party service providers will do weekly checks
in more than 3,400 of its stores selling produce. Walmart said
it would benchmark itself and its competitors week over week.
Walmart also said it recently began a produce training
program for 70,000 employees. Store managers, market managers
and produce department managers are set to learn more about
handling fruits and vegetables. Quality guides for workers will
illustrate how to identify top produce, the company said.
Grocers, restaurants and food makers are under pressure from
consumers and public health officials to sell more healthful
food in an effort to address the nation's obesity crisis. More
than two-thirds of U.S. adults and nearly one-third of youth
aged 2 to 19 are overweight or obese, according to the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Food is a huge business for the world's largest retailer,
which has been lowering prices, along with its healthier
makeover, to boost sales. Groceries, from food and drinks to
cleaning products, accounted for 55 percent of Walmart U.S.'s
$274.5 billion in sales in the latest fiscal year.