SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Feb. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- First Lady Michelle Obama visited a Walmart store in Springfield, Mo., today to celebrate the retailer's progress in making food healthier, more affordable and available to consumers across the country.
During the first two years of Walmart's healthier food initiative, the company helped make it easier for customers to create healthier diets and, ultimately, live healthier lives by:
- saving customers $2.3 billion on fresh fruits and vegetables;
- developing and launching a front-of-package icon which will appear on more than 1,300 Walmart Great Value and Marketside items as well as fresh and packaged fruits and vegetables;
- reducing salt and sugars in its private brand and national food brands; and
- opening 86 stores serving neighborhoods without access to fresh, affordable groceries.
"We are proud of the work we have done in the last two years to make it easier and more affordable for our customers to buy healthier food, and we know there is more work to do," said Leslie Dach, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Walmart. "We applaud First Lady Michelle Obama's continued leadership. Her passion is encouraging companies and organizations, like Walmart, to make continued progress that positively affects the health and wellness of the communities we serve."
"For years, the conventional wisdom said that healthy products simply didn't sell – that the demand wasn't there, that higher profits were found elsewhere, so it just wasn't worth the investment. Thanks to Walmart and so many other great American businesses, we are proving the conventional wisdom wrong," said First Lady Michelle Obama. "Every day, with their success, these companies are showing us that what's good for kids and good for family budgets can also be good for business."
Walmart's progress on its healthier food commitment:
Commitment: Improve the nutritional quality of Walmart's Great Value brand and national food brands by reducing sodium by 25 percent, added sugars by 10 percent and removing all industrially produced trans fats by the end of 2015.
- Reduced sugars by more than 10 percent across targeted categories, including dairy, sauces and fruit drinks. For example, in the yogurt category, added sugars declined by more than 12 percent through a combination of reduced added sugars in existing products and the introduction of new, lower sugar options. The 12 percent reduction is equivalent to 6.9 million pounds of sugar, or 155 tractor trailer loads, in this one category.
- Reduced sodium by 9 percent across targeted categories of grocery items, including grain products, luncheon meats, salad dressings and frozen entrees. Walmart, partnering with its suppliers, has decreased sodium in the commercial bread category (products in the bread aisle) by 13 percent - eliminating more than 1.5 million pounds of salt from the diets of Walmart shoppers, or 35 tractor trailer loads. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dietary data, bread is the number one source of sodium in the American diet.
- The number of products containing industrially produced trans fats fell by 50 percent. Less than 10 percent of food and beverages sold at Walmart in 2011 contained industrially produced trans fats.
Commitment: Create a front-of-package icon to help consumers easily and quickly identify healthier food options, such as whole grain cereal, whole wheat pasta, lean cuts of meat and low-fat milk.
- Unveiled Walmart's "Great For You" icon which will appear on more than 1,300 Great Value and Marketside food and beverages in Walmart U.S. stores.
- Evaluated more than 4,000 private brand products against the "Great For You" nutrition criteria with about 32 percent of fresh produce, meat and packaged items receiving the icon. The icon will soon be available to participating national brand products that meet the "Great For You" criteria and qualify for the icon.
- Developed rigorous nutrition criteria to back the "Great For You" icon informed by the latest nutrition science and authoritative guidance from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Institute of Medicine (IOM).
Commitment: Save customers at least $1 billion a year on healthier food, including reduced prices on produce and parity pricing on "Great For You" products.
- Walmart customers saved $1.2 billion on fresh fruits and vegetables in 2012.
- Combined with the $1.1 billion in savings in 2011, customers have saved $2.3 billion during the first two years of the program.
Commitment: Increase Americans' access to fresh, healthier and affordable food by opening between 275 and 300 new stores in urban and rural food deserts by the end of 2016.
- Opened 86 new stores serving food deserts since 2011. These stores serve customers in both urban and rural areas including Atlanta; Durham, N.C.; and Springfield, Mo.
- More than 264,000 people now have more options for fresh, healthier groceries as a result of the 86 new stores serving food deserts.
- The company projects 800,000 people will have more options for healthier food when Walmart opens all 275-300 stores in food deserts.
Commitment: Help all Americans better understand nutrition and healthier eating options by increasing charitable support for nutrition programs.
- In 2012, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation provided more than $13 million in grants to innovative programs across the United States that support nutrition education, cooking skills and healthy eating.
- Since 2011, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have provided more than $26 million in grants to nutrition education.
"At Walmart, we want to make healthier eating simple and easy," said Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart. "One of the ways we are doing this is by helping families quickly identify healthier food options and taking added sugar, salt and trans fats out of the everyday food customers buy, while keeping the great taste they expect."
First Lady Michelle Obama was joined by local Springfield mom and teacher Stephanie Kennedy who since adopting her grandchildren realized she needed to make a change. During the last two years, she lost 70 pounds by eating healthier and is now trying to teach her students and grandchildren about the importance of eating healthy.
"As a mom of two young children, I shop for groceries on a tight budget," said Kennedy. "If there's a choice I can make that's both less expensive and more nutritious, that's a win for me and my family. It was an honor to share today with the First Lady– she inspired me to continue to make better choices for my family. It's not every day you get to share your grocery list with the First Lady!"
Tours like the one the First Lady participated in are part of the "Shopping Matters" and "Cooking Matters" programs that the Walmart Foundation funds through its partner, Share Our Strength. The tours, available in select Walmart stores across the country, feature teachers and chefs helping low-income shoppers better understand how to maximize limited budgets and still find healthier food options.
For more information visit: http://corporate.walmart.com/nutrition
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at more than 10,700 retail units under 69 different banners in 27 countries. With fiscal year 2013 sales of approximately $466 billion, Walmart employs more than 2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmartnewsroom. Online merchandise sales are available at http://www.walmart.com and http://www.samsclub.com.