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Healthy Recipe Doctor

with Elaine Magee, MPH, RD

Elaine Magee's blog has now been retired. We appreciate all the wisdom and support she has brought to the WebMD community throughout the years. For more information on nutrition and eating well, visit our Real Life Nutrition and Tasty. Easy. Healthy. blogs

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Walmart Is Putting Their Money Where Your Mouth Is

When the number one grocer in the U.S. calls for change from the food industry, people and companies listen. In an effort to provide customers with healthier, (and here’s the revolutionary part) more affordable food choices, Walmart is taking matters into its own big hands!

Here’s what got my attention.

They are making healthier foods more affordable instead of more expensive.

Ever notice how “better choice” products like whole wheat pasta or lower sodium soups cost more than the “regular” products made by the same manufacturer? Walmart plans to dramatically reduce or eliminate the added price point of these “better for you” items including reduced sodium, sugar or fat products.

I am most excited at the prospect of them making fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable for the average family. In part by improving sourcing, transportation, and logistics, they believe they can save Americans who shop at Walmart approximately 1 billion per year on fresh fruits and vegetables.

They are reformulating products within their Great Value private brand by 2015 (they plan to collaborate with suppliers to reformulate national brands as well).

  • Sodium: Walmart is committed to reducing sodium by 25% in key product categories (grain products, processed meats, salad dressings, condiments, snack products and packaged prepared foods such as soups and frozen entrees).
  • Added Sugars: Walmart is committed to reducing added sugars by 10% in key product categories (dairy products, condiments and sauces, fruit drinks, canned fruit and grain products such as breads, muffins, breakfast cereals and bars etc.)

They are making it a business priority to find innovative solutions to the “food deserts” (underserved communities, usually low income, that are in need of fresh and affordable groceries) in the U.S.

Why now? What catapulted Walmart into this revolutionary campaign to make the food they sell healthier and more affordable? Perhaps it’s not one factor but many converging at this moment in time. The First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program, which Walmart is tying into, seems to be gaining momentum. And my guess is Walmart customers are ready for these changes more than ever before. Walmart says their customers tell them they want a variety of food choices and need help feeding their families healthier foods.

All of these directives are firmly rooted in one simple philosophy that Walmart embraces: No customer should have to choose between doing what is realistic and affordable…and doing what is healthier for his/her family. Can’t argue with that! You know that popular line heard in several movies, “it’s good to be king!” Well, it’s good to be the number one grocer, especially when you can encourage and inspire this kind of social and environmental change within a relatively short amount of time.

Posted by: Elaine Magee, RD at 8:00 am

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