Walmart expected to unveil new plans to sell healthier food

A Wal-Mart customer enters a store.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

JEREMY HOBSON: Walmart is unveiling a new plan today to sell healthier food. And just like everything Walmart does, this could reshape industries.

Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer joins us now, live, from Washington with more on this. Good morning, Nancy.

NANCY MARSHALL GENZER:

HOBSON: So tell us first, what's Walmart up to?

MARSHALL GENZER: It hasn't given us a lot of details yet. Walmart issued a press release that just says it'll announce a major initiative to provide customers with healthier food choices. But the New York Times is reporting this morning that Walmart is going to unveil a five year plan to lower the price of fresh fruits and vegetables. It's also promising to reduce the salt, sugar and trans fat in the packaged food it sells under its own label. We're talking about everything from potato chips to salad dressing. The Times says Walmart will cut sodium by 25 percent, and sugar by 10 percent.

HOBSON:Alright, but Walmart obviously sells a lot of name brand food, as well as stuff that's under it's own label, as you said. What about all that food? What happens there?

MARSHALL GENZER: Walmart says it's going to pressure its big suppliers to also cut salt, sugar and fat. And it has the clout to do that, because it sells more groceries than any other U.S. retailer. Kraft, for example, says Walmart accounts for about 16 percent of its sales around the world. And Jeremy as you mentioned, we've seen this so called "Walmart effect" before. When the nation's largest retailer tells suppliers to jump, they say, "How high?"

HOBSON: Right.

MARSHALL GENZER: And today's initiate could get even more play than usual because First Lady Michelle Obama will be at the announcement. She of course, has been very involved in efforts to reduce childhood obesity and she started the "Let's Move" campaign.

HOBSON: And quickly Nancy, I guess health food advocates are probably pretty happy about this news.

MARSHALL GENZER: Yeah, one advocate said Walmart is pushing the food industry in the right direction, but he says Walmart could've don't more to reduce sugar.

HOBSON: Alright, Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer in Washington, Nancy thanks so much.

MARSHALL GENZER: You're welcome.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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