How Is Wal-Mart Promising to Buy Fresh(er) and Local?

You don’t have to break your bank and go to Whole Foods if you’re looking for fresh, healthy foods, Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) contends, because the retail giant and also the world’s largest produce seller, is now ready to offer its customers the freshest selection of fruits and vegetables, cutting out middlemen in the process.

Wal-Mart announced Monday that the company will be implementing a new time-saving strategy that allows the retailer to buy 80 percent of its produce directly from local growers, The Los Angeles Times reports. By cutting out the third-party wholesalers who deliver the produce from farms to Wal-Mart distribution centers, the company will be able to offer its fruits and vegetables at least a day earlier, and a day fresher.

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This also puts the control back into the hands of the retailer, who can now appeal directly to consumer demand and offer only what is desired, rather than wrestling with overstocking problems. Wal-Mart promises to train its employees to recognize when produce is no longer fresh and needs to be removed, so as to prevent customers from purchasing expired goods. Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of the grocery division for Wal-Mart U.S., also reiterated the store’s pledge to provide full refunds for customers who are dissatisfied with the freshness of their purchased goods.

And Wal-Mart’s new strategy isn’t only purposed to satisfy its customers. It is also hoping to increase its efforts of buying local. The chain currently receives produce from all 50 states’ in-state growers, and it is committed to doubling its sales of local produce from 2010 to 2015.

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