Make us your home page
Instagram

Walmart goes crunchy with low-priced organic foods

Low prices and organic food.

They usually don't go together, but Walmart wants to change that.

The giant retailer, in a move to grab even more grocery dollars, announced Thursday it will carry Wild Oats organic products at half of its stores nationwide. That includes nine supercenters in the Tampa Bay area.

"We don't think our customers should have to pay high prices to put food on their family's table and organic products shouldn't be an exception," said Danit Marquardt, a spokeswoman for Walmart, based in Bentonville, Ark.

Walmart will introduce about 100 Wild Oats items, most of them pantry products ranging from olive oil to chicken broth. The chain will offer them at 2,000 stores initially, then expand to all 4,000 locations.

Walmart says the products will save shoppers 25 percent or more when compared with national brand organic items. A 6-ounce jar of Wild Oats tomato paste, for example, will sell for 58 cents, versus 98 cents for a national brand. Cinnamon applesauce cups will sell for $1.98 versus $2.78 elsewhere.

Walmart already carries 1,600 organic products but not at the lower price point.

Products will be distributed to stores over the next few months and interspersed throughout the store by category, rather than lumped together in one area.

Walmart's decision was backed by internal company research that found 91 percent of customers said they would consider buying "affordable" organic products at the store. The nation's largest grocer used its massive buying power to drive down the prices.

"We know our customers are interested in purchasing organic products and traditionally they had to pay more," Marquardt said. "We're changing that."

Walmart partnered with Wild Oats, which operated 110 stores, including one in Tampa, before being bought out by rival Whole Foods in 2007. The Wild Oats brand disappeared until recently when Fresh & Easy stores in California started carrying the products. Private equity firm Yucaipa Cos., run by billionaire Ron Burkle, now owns the Wild Oats brand and Fresh & Easy.

"In the past, organic goods were viewed as premium items," said Frank Quintero, a spokesman at Yucaipa. "This is going to make organic food available to more people."

U.S. sales of organic food and other products reached $29 billion in 2012, the most recent data available, according to the Organic Trade Association. Ten years earlier, sales were $8 billion.

Industry experts say Walmart's move could prompt other retailers to cut prices on organic goods to stay competitive.

"Logic tells you that if Walmart does this and they are successful, then everyone will follow," said Bob Messenger, editor of the online newsletter for the food and beverage industry The Morning Cup. "At the very least it's going to scare the crap out of Whole Foods and others."

Faced with more competition in the natural and organic arena, Whole Foods already is focused on price competition. In the past six months it has expanded value offerings and increased promotions. The meat department offers fresh packaged chicken under the 365 Everyday Value brand. In the produce section, the chain is adding more ''high-grade" but affordable options alongside its organic products.

On Tuesday, Target, one of Walmart's main competitors, said it would expand its selection of organic products. The Made to Matter — Handpicked by Target collection will have more than 120 products from leading natural, organic and sustainable brands.

Susan Thurston can be reached at sthurston@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3110.

Wild Oats at Walmart

The following Tampa Bay area Walmart Supercenters will start selling Wild Oats-branded organic products:

• 2677 Roose­velt Blvd., Largo

• 23106 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater

• 8220 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa

• 11110 Causeway Blvd., Brandon

• 9205 Gibsonton Drive, Gibsonton

• 1208 E Brandon Blvd., Brandon

• 3801 Tampa Road, Oldsmar

• 19910 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa

• 6192 Gunn Highway, Tampa

Walmart goes crunchy with low-priced organic foods 04/10/14 [Last modified: Thursday, April 10, 2014 9:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: Tampa Bay household income tops $50,000 but still makes us look poor

    Personal Finance

    The good news is Tampa Bay's median household income finally crawled above $50,000 last year. The bad news is that figure — officially $51,115 by new U.S. Census Bureau data — still puts the Tampa Bay region as the poorest of the nation's 25 largest metro areas.

    Tampa Bay still has the lowest median household income among the 25 most populous metro areas, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
[Times]
  2. Make-A-Wish Foundation aims to help more kids in Tampa Bay

    Health

    The Make-A-Wish Foundation is on the lookout for sick children in the Tampa Bay area who need a once-in-a-lifetime pick-me-up.

    Grace Savage, a 10-year-old girl with a chromosomal disorder made a trek to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium last year, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation intends to beef up its presence in the Tampa Bay area after a reorganization. The region is now the responsibility of the foundation's Southern Florida chapter, one of the most active in the country, with more than 11,000 wishes granted so far. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times ]
  3. Florida hides details in nursing home reports. Federal agencies don't.

    Medicine

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott widened his offensive Thursday against the Broward nursing home he blames for the deaths of 10 residents by setting up a tip line for information, but when it comes to access to the inspection reports of all nursing homes, the governor's administration has heavily censored what the …

    In the foreground is a document detailing the findings of a Feb. 2016 inspection at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills obtained from a federal agency, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Behind it is the state?€™s version of the same document, from the Agency for Health Care Administration, showing how it has been redacted before being released to the public. [Miami Herald]
  4. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”
  5. Fewer Tampa Bay homeowners are underwater on their mortgages

    Real Estate

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages continues to drop. In the second quarter of this year, 10.2 percent of borrowers had negative equity compared to nearly 15 percent in the same period a year ago, CoreLogic reported Thursday. Nationally, 5.4 percent of all mortgaged homes were …

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages  continues to drop. [Times file photo]