Skip to main content

Making progress with produce. Walmart CEO talks upgraded fresh department

Doug McMillon says the big-box retailer is on par with conventional rivals when it comes to the quality of its fresh offering
Photo courtesy of Walmart.

Walmart has made noticeable improvements to its fresh offering at stores in the U.S., and its CEO recently weighed in on the progress that has been made so far.

The big-box retailer announced on its blog in November that it was making updates to produce sections in the U.S., including wider aisles, new signs highlighting prices and shorter merchandise bins.

"When you walk in the store, you can see the difference. It looks like a fresh market. There's a lot of color. It's in your face. It feels aggressive from a merchandising point of view," said Doug McMillon during an on-stage interview at Barclays Gaming, Lodging, Leisure, Restaurant & Food Retail Conference in New York on Dec. 4.

A transcript of the interview has been published to the retailer's corporate website.

McMillon said the quality of Walmart's fresh offering matched that of conventional rivals. "I don't want to have our team get comfortable ... but we have a really competitive quality offer and a great value in produce today. I'm excited about that."

Improvements need to be made, however, to the retailer's beef program, the quality of the steaks it sells and the consistency of that quality, said McMillon. "There's a lot of runway in front of us to keep making fresh areas better, " he said.

Asked if Walmart is equipped to serve customers' specific diets and lifestyles with organic and vegan options, McMillon said progress in these areas had been made. As part of its recent revamp for instance, Walmart moved its organic products to one area of the department, making it easier for customers to find.

"In some cases, we had the items and they got lost in the assortment. In some cases, we pulled items together and put a sign on it to help people find it. So it's grown. We have a really great offer in the areas you mentioned, plus things like gluten-free today," said McMillon.

Customers still tend to get lost, however, when looking for products that address specific dietary needs. There's opportunity to address this through the retailer's app using product location functions.

McMillon also said the retailer was working on marrying its app with its grocery app. "We've got to resolve that in some way to tie the whole thing together," he said.

In its most recent quarter, Walmart said online grocery sales rose 41% helped by its expansion of grocery delivery service. Walmart now has more than 3,000 locations for grocery pickup and more than 1,400 locations that offer grocery delivery.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds