Walmart has said it intends to reformulate its products to make them healthier and will push its suppliers to do the same, in support of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, the retailer said on Thursday.
The nation’s largest grocer said it intends to cut sugar, saturated fat, and sodium in thousands of products in its private label Great Value products, eliminate trans fat, and will also slash the prices of fruits and vegetables, following talks with the First Lady. Michelle Obama has taken aim at childhood obesity with her Let’s Move! campaign, which has the stated aim of ending the condition within a generation.
President and CEO of Walmart US Bill Simon said in a statement: “No family should have to choose between food that is healthier for them and food they can afford. With more than 140 million customer visits each week, Walmart is uniquely positioned to make a difference by making food healthier and more affordable to everyone.”
The company announced its intention to gradually cut sodium by a total of 25 percent, added sugars by 10 percent and to eliminate trans fats in its products by 2015 in an event attended by Michelle Obama in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.
Walmart said it would save its customers about $1bn a year by lowering its fruit and vegetable prices, and added that it would “drastically reduce or eliminate” prices of ‘better for you’ versions of products, such as those that have reduced fat, sugar or sodium.
Executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Michael Jacobson welcomed the move. He said in a statement: “This announcement will virtually eliminate artificial trans fat in packaged foods and help spur food manufacturers to cut the sodium in their products over the next several years. Those two moves by Walmart ultimately should save thousands of lives each year that might otherwise be lost to heart disease or stroke.”
In addition, the retail giant said it intends to build grocery stores in “underserved communities”, increase its charitable support of nutrition education programs, and develop a front-of-pack seal to “help consumers instantly identify truly healthier food options such as whole grain cereal, whole wheat pasta or unsweetened canned fruit.”