Sustainability / Innovation / Columns

Editor's Note: The next Walmart effect: healthier Americans and more customers

February 1, 2011
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+
The retailing giant plans to reduce sodium, sugar and trans fat in the products it sells by 2015 and produce a simple front-of-product label to deliver the message to consumers.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall a First Lady of the United States who ever wielded much influence on the food and beverage manufacturing industry. But last month, Walmart announced sweeping changes in its product offerings to include more healthy food that’s also affordable. The retailing giant plans to reduce sodium, sugar and trans fat in the products it sells by 2015 and produce a simple front-of-product label to deliver the message to consumers. With Michelle Obama joining Walmart as part of the announcement, it dovetails perfectly with her “Let’s Move” campaign against obesity.

Some opponents have suggested Walmart’s purpose is not to make America healthier, but to shore up its profits. Walmart’s sustainability scorecard transformed the food and beverage industry’s level of social responsibility. With the latest mandate, let’s hope there’s a transformation of American waistlines. Just as sustainability was good for the planet and in many cases manufacturers’ bottom lines, healthier foods is a positive step in the fight against obesity, regardless of which businesses profit.

There’s a new world out there, and it’s causing people to make new choices. Working moms have outnumbered stay-at-home mothers for more than a decade, and these busy lifestyles call for smarter food choices. The rise in obesity, diabetes and other illnesses demands attention now.

In the past, I never shopped at Walmart. I preferred to go to one supermarket and one pharmacy chain to make all my purchases, mostly for convenience, but I also questioned Walmart’s business practices.  In the current era of pay cuts, job insecurity and rising costs of health care, gasoline and home fuel, today I’m in the check-out line at Walmart, for purely economic reasons. 

If you don’t like Walmart’s employee practices or anti-union history, you can always buy your groceries elsewhere. Putting aside politics or feelings about corporate actions, I think anything that improves the health of Americans is a step in the right direction.

See you at the check-out line.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

Recent Articles by Joyce Fassl, Editor-in-Chief

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Plant of the Year 2014

Blue Diamond Growers was chosen as Food Engineering's 2014 Plant of the Year. The Sacramento-based company is the world’s largest producer of almonds and almond ingredients.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering December 2014 Cover

2014 December

In the December 2014 issue of Food Engineering read about our Fabulous Food Plant feature on the Chelten House, a new facility in Las Vegas.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

FSMA Audit

What is the is most important step you have taken to become ready for a FSMA audit?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Master Cover 2014Food Master 2014 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.