Food Engineering

Market drives healthier food

March 1, 2011
First Lady Michelle Obama joins students for a “Let’s Move!” Salad Bars to Schools launch event at Riverside Elementary School in Miami, Fla., Nov. 22, 2010. Source: Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy.


Walmart recently launched a comprehensive program to provide its customers with healthier and more affordable food choices. The program builds on the success of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to make healthy choices more convenient and affordable for families. In working with its suppliers, Walmart outlined five key elements of the plan.

1. Reformulating thousands of everyday packaged food items by 2015 by reducing sodium 25 percent and added sugars ten percent, and by removing all remaining industrially produced trans fats.

2. Making healthier choices more affordable, saving customers approximately $1 billion per year on fresh fruits and vegetables through a variety of sourcing, pricing and transportation/logistics initiatives that will drive unnecessary costs out of the supply chain. The retailer intends to reduce or eliminate the price premium on key “better-for-you” items (such as reduced sodium, sugar or fat products).

3. Developing a strong criterion for a simple front-of-package seal that will help consumers quickly identify healthier food options.

4. Providing solutions to address food deserts by building stores in underserved communities that are in need of fresh, affordable groceries.

5. Increasing charitable support for nutrition programs that will help educate consumers about healthier food solutions and choices.

“No family should have to choose between food that is healthier for them and food they can afford,” says Bill Simon, Walmart US president and CEO. Simon says the retailer is committed to working with processors, government and non-governmental organizations to provide both nutritional and cost-effective solutions for its customers.

Reformulating products will be a key effort for processors. Walmart expects to reduce sodium by 25 percent in a broad category of grocery items including grain products, luncheon meats, salad dressings and frozen entrées; reduce added sugars by 10 percent in dairy items, sauces and fruit drinks; and remove all remaining industrially produced trans fats in all packaged food products.