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End obesity, cheaply - "Wal-Mart Shifts Strategy to Promote Healthy Foods"

"Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, will announce a five-year plan on Thursday to make thousands of its packaged foods lower in unhealthy salts, fats and sugars, and to drop prices on fruits and vegetables."

read more...http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/20/bus...

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  1. love it!
    Kudos to Wal-Mart, they have been making quite an effort to clean up their act...yes it is probably the result of market analysis of food trends and working conditions won't be any better, but I can see the immediate benefit to this on a national scale, given WM's size and reach.

    1. Saw this on the news last night. Wonder if they'll stop stocking case-ready cryovac'd and saline-infused meats.

      1. It is a step toward changing the American diet and basic understanding of nutrition. Frankly, I am not really interested in trying to ascertain whether their motives stemmed from some self-protective or nefarious purpose. Even if they did, in totality, it still appears to be a decent contribution. Ideally, the 7-11s and Targets of the nation will follow suit.

        1. Glad to see that Walmart is acknowledging what a force they are in the American lifestyle...that whole "with great power comes great responsibility" thing.

          I'd like to think that it's out of some sense of the common good, but there's that horrible hard cynic part of me that figures it has something to do with profit or avoiding lawsuits.

          But whatever it is...it makes people think...and talk...and hopefully learn something...and hopefully do *something* for their own wellbeing, whether it's putting down that third box of Twinkies or picking up a bag of apples (or hopefully both).

          The momentum is beginning to shift, and it takes big weight like this to help turn the thing.

          1. OK, I guess I will have to be the one to call "BS". I don't believe that WalMart has any altruistic motivation behind this. It all looks great from a PR standpoint and they gain political points with Mrs. Obama and her supporters, but the basic Wal-martian, who would benefit the most from a healthier diet, are not going to be motivated to buy healthier foods in any quantity to make any sort of impact. WalMart's expansion in the US has topped out in the rural areas and they are finding it increasingly difficult to penetrate into the urban areas. IMHO, they are trying to appeal to the urban "disadvantaged" (read the middle-class trying to scrape by in this economy) by jumping on the "eat healthy" band wagon. WalMart only does what is in WalMart's best interest, not what is good for consumer or the community in which they reside.

            4 Replies
            1. re: araknd

              You may, in many ways, be quite right. It is a fact that a corporate entity’s decision makers have a duty to act for the financial benefit of its stakeholders. Nevertheless, sometimes concepts of corporate responsibility, external political pressures or incentives, and profit maximization can coincide in such a way as to be to society’s advantage. I’m simply trying to quell my inner cynic and recognize that both Wal-Mart’s bottom line and America’s waistline may benefit from such actions.

              1. re: araknd

                Wal-mart's customers don't need to be motivated to buy more healthful foods. Wal-mart is planning to make their house brand foods more healthful (or at least less un-healthful), which means customers who are motivated to buy the least-expensive product on the shelf will also get the better-for-them product by default. Granted, they'll still be buying cookies and crackers, just with slightly less junk as defined by current food science standards.

                Also, I don't think anyone is claiming this is an altruistic move. Wal-mart has been very upfront about the economic reasoning behind the changes in recent years - they increased organic products, changed to growth hormone free milk, and are now reformulating packaged foods to meet market demand, plain and simple.

                1. re: araknd

                  Walmart's play seems to be the epitome of hypocrisy and self-justification. Buy more, consume more but sleep well because it's better for you than the life-shortening slop we've sold for years--maybe. Short of instore bariatric procedures, does anyone really believe this will do anything except fatten Walmart's bottom line and squeeze the wee out of what remains of the competition in the name of customers' well-being? All Walmart wants is for the herd to continue waddling through the door.

                  1. re: Kagemusha

                    How many companies/groups like Kallari can you name?

                    Walmart sees a market and they're moving in. Of course they're doing this mainly for the profit and image. How many companies don't act on those two motives? I think many are trying to escape from the reality that there aren't many altruistic companies. The familiar ones familiar around here, like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Stonyfield and so on all care about profits, and that's not a bad thing. Raising the bar to get ahead of the competition? That's capitalism.

                    Walmart is doing this because it's good for Walmart. And, it's also good for consumers. That's wrong? To me, that's a very twisted view of things.