Walmart Stores said it will reformulate its Great Value private-label food brand to become healthier while also lowering prices on healthier foods over the next five years.
While Walmart is not the first major food company to state that it plans to reduce sodium and added sugars in its products, the impact of the retail giant's commitment, along with fact that Walmart Stores generate more than 140 million customer visits a week, is unique.General Mills, The Campbell Soup Company, ConAgra Foods, and Kraft Foods have all publicly promised to cut sodium in their products within the next few years.
One of the most interesting aspects of the announcement was the decision to partner with First Lady Michelle Obama, who, for the first time, announced support for one specific company. Obama has been actively involved in her "Let's Move!" initiative, which aims to fight childhood obesity in the US.
The Washington Post writes:
In endorsing the Walmart initiative, the administration is allying itself with a company that has long been accused by liberals of opposing allowing its workers to unionize, paying low wages and not offering its workers enough benefits.
East Wing aides said that the first lady's involvement doesn't amount to an endorsement of a single company but instead reflects her support for Walmart's commitment to expand the availability of food options and lower food costs.
In addition, the Walmart announcement arrived in what some are calling a "perfect storm" of food and health issues in Washington, including the food safety law and the upcoming release of the new dietary guidelines.