As Walmart continues to slow the pace of its new store development, the retailer is working on some other initiatives, including “building trust” with customers by improving the quality of its perishables. The company has been working with suppliers to move perishables through the supply chain more quickly, which will reduce spoilage and ensure better quality for customers, according to Supermarket News.
“It starts with fresh. It starts with consumables,” says Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart eCommerce US. “If you can offer fresh produce and consumables at the best possible price, with a really good experience, whether it be for pickup or delivery, then you have a good chance of building a longstanding relationship that you can then use to sell the rest of general merchandise.”
The tactic of building trust by improving quality and decreasing spoilage is taking off among food retailers. As consumers become more aware of the amount of food wasted in restaurants, grocery stores, and their own homes, retailers are tackling the issue head-on.
Walmart announced last summer that it is investing in a research program to stunt food waste at the source, where crops are harvested and delivered. The Walmart Foundation and the Foundation for Food Agriculture Research are funding $1.3 million for research – to be conducted by the World Wildlife Fund – that would identify the areas in which food is lost and wasted at farms and to explore practical opportunities for producers to increase the proportion of crops that are harvested and delivered to the highest value destinations.
Earlier this year, UK grocery store chain Sainsbury’s launched a new packaging “smart label” on its store-brand ham that changes color depending on how long the package has been open, telling the consumer if the product is still safe to eat. The edibility of the ham inside the package – and therefore the color of the label – also depends on the temperature of the refrigerator in which the ham is stored. Last year, Sainsbury said it had reduced waste by more than half after moving more beefsteak lines into vacuum packing.
And the Kroger Co. initiated a program helping consumers make smart choices in a way that might encourage them to consider the supermarket a “trusted partner.” The company launched a program called Sustainability Lives Here, designed to highlight easy and sustainable living practices. The program offers a variety of suggestions, including “green inspiration on how to throw away less while eating well, saving money and keeping valuable resources from going to waste.”