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America's largest grocer is revamping its produce section

Produce is the first thing customers see when they enter Walmart and a key part of the retailer's defense against Amazon. So Walmart is giving its produce ai...

Posted: Nov 20, 2019 10:58 AM

Produce is the first thing customers see when they enter Walmart and a key part of the retailer's defense against Amazon. So Walmart is giving its produce aisles a makeover.

The largest grocer in the United States announced Wednesday that it will renovate produce areas with new signs highlighting prices and shorter merchandise bins to create an "open market feel" for customers. Walmart will also move all of its organic items into a single area of the department to make them easier to find. And it will widen the aisles to try to keep them from clogging up with customers and employees who pick up online grocery orders.

Online grocery shopping has "fundamentally changed the way we operate our food business within the store," said Charles Redfield, executive vice president of food at Walmart's US business. "We've always got associates in the produce area. This layout created more space in the department to allow room for customers to shop."

The revamp, which Walmart has dubbed "Produce 2.0," has already started at more than 200 stores. Walmart expects to complete it at the majority of its 4,700 US stores by next summer.

Produce is an important category for grocers because 95% of shoppers prefer to buy it in store. And that number is growing. Produce sales grew 2.6% last year, according to a Nielsen study published earlier this year.

"Fresh is key to the food shopping experience," said Redfield.

Walmart hopes a new merchandising look will help convince shoppers that it offers high-quality fruit and vegetables.

"It plays to big, overarching consumer trends in health and wellness," said Jon Springer, executive editor of Winsight Grocery Business, an industry trade publication.

Walmart's rivals have also invested in produce. German discount grocer Aldi expanded its produce and organic offerings in recent years, while Kroger's new slogan and advertisements, "Fresh for Everyone," emphasize its focus on fresh food.

On Tuesday, Kroger said it will begin growing some produce in hydroponic farms at its QFC stores in Washington state.

America's largest grocer

Walmart's latest initiative in produce is another attempt to bolster its 31-year-old grocery business.

Walmart began selling groceries in 1988, when it opened its first superstore. Since then, groceries have become Walmart's largest sales driver, accounting for 56% of the company's more than $500 billion in revenue. Walmart is America's largest grocer and controls around 20% of the fragmented US grocery industry, according to Morgan Stanley estimates.

The company has lowered prices on produce in recent years to compete with discount rivals and taken steps to speed up its supply chain. That has extended the time that fruits and vegetables last on the shelves.

"One thing the customers were telling us is that, you know what, 'We didn't believe in your quality.' We knew we had some work to do there," Redfield said.

Walmart has also poured investments into online grocery shopping to defend against Amazon, which bought Whole Foods in 2017 and plans to open a new grocery store next year in Los Angeles as an alternative to Whole Foods.

Walmart added buy-online, pickup-in-store to around 3,000 locations and home delivery from more than 1,400 locations. The company recently launched a $98-a-year grocery delivery subscription.

During Walmart's most recent quarter, online sales grew 41%, bolstered by grocery pickups and deliveries.

"Fresh has become an important part of that online grocery basket," Redfield said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
Oktibbeha6964124
Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
Bolivar6115144
Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
Lincoln5303131
George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
Tippah446480
Itawamba4444100
Adams4416116
Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
Wayne433066
Copiah431787
Yazoo423386
Covington415792
Sunflower4148104
Marion4099104
Leake397586
Coahoma3957100
Newton370875
Grenada3556104
Stone350860
Tishomingo336289
Attala325387
Jasper314162
Winston304691
Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 789054

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1115991765
Mobile708511234
Madison49865633
Shelby36274315
Baldwin36242495
Tuscaloosa33931548
Montgomery33190678
Lee22680220
Calhoun21211410
Morgan19816335
Etowah19300462
Marshall17680274
Houston16823386
St. Clair15442305
Cullman14602258
Limestone14581188
Elmore14480264
Lauderdale13520281
Talladega12958236
DeKalb12199237
Walker10588330
Blount9720157
Autauga9667137
Jackson9385158
Coffee8882175
Dale8609173
Colbert8534184
Tallapoosa6673181
Escambia6591121
Covington6452167
Chilton6385144
Russell607255
Franklin5795101
Chambers5416134
Marion4800120
Dallas4705189
Clarke463279
Pike462397
Geneva4413117
Winston425895
Lawrence4117108
Bibb409381
Barbour347270
Marengo326285
Monroe320053
Butler318290
Randolph305956
Pickens305274
Henry301858
Hale292685
Cherokee289855
Fayette279673
Washington245448
Crenshaw238470
Cleburne235851
Clay228565
Macon220158
Lamar197743
Conecuh182046
Lowndes170758
Coosa170235
Wilcox159736
Bullock149243
Perry136537
Sumter124536
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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