Walmart has signaled its intention to get into organic food in a big way this week with plans to carry 100 Wild Oats organic products at a “new, more affordable price point” in 2,000 stores.
According to Walmart, customers will save 25%+ when comparing Wild Oats to national brand organic products.
“We know our customers are interested in purchasing organic products and, traditionally, those customers have had to pay more,” said Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of grocery at Walmart U.S. “We are changing that and creating a new price position for organic groceries that increases access.”
CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson said the move meant that more land would be farmed with organic methods and more Americans would have access to organic food.
He added: “Like with everything else Walmart does, there will be trade-offs here. Regardless of the company’s behavior in other spheres, it has demonstrated before that its marketplace power can help drive valuable progress on nutrition and the environment.”
Walmart: 'We are creating a new price position for organic groceries that increases access'
Organic retailer Wild Oats was acquired by Whole Food Market in 2007 but sold again two years later following anti-trust concerns. It was later purchased by Hidden Villa, an egg company that subsequently sold it to The Yucaipa Co. Yucaipa also owns 167 Fresh & Easy grocery stores in California, Nevada and Arizona, where Wild Oats products are now sold.
Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb told CNBC the move would not dent sales in his stores, adding that Walmart's customer base "overlaps least with us,” while the Wild Oats assortment in Walmart is primarily packaged goods rather than fresh products.
US retail sales of organic products were worth $35bn in 2013, according to USDA, which says it helped an additional 763 producers become certified organic in 2013, up 4.2% from the previous year.
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