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Walmart announces new initiative to sell healthier food products, lower priced fruits and vegetables

by Joan Murphy | January 19, 2011
WASHINGTON -- First lady Michelle Obama joined Walmart officials Jan. 20 at a Washington community center to announce that the nation's largest grocer will push suppliers to reformulate their processed foods to make them healthier and slash prices on fresh fruits and vegetables to make them more affordable.

"No family should have to choose between food that is healthier for them and food they can afford," Bill Simon, president and chief executive officer of Walmart U.S., said in a statement.

As part of the new campaign, Walmart will reformulate key product categories in its "Great Value" private brand and collaborate with suppliers to redesign national brands to help reduce the consumption of sodium, sugar and transfats by 2015. Specifically, companies will need to reformulate thousands of products to reduce sodium by 25 percent, reduce added sugars by 10 percent and remove transfat from packaged food products.

Walmart also plans to help customers on fresh fruits and vegetables through a variety of sourcing, pricing and transportation and logistics initiatives that "will drive unnecessary costs out of the supply chain," the company said in the statement. For example, Walmart said that it plans to establish more direct relationships with farmers, which typically result in additional income for farmers and lower and more consistent prices for customers.

"If we are successful in our efforts to lower prices, we believe we can save Americans who shop at Walmart approximately $1 billion per year on fresh fruit and vegetables," Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart, said in the statement.