Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, has announced plans to begin sourcing produce directly from farmers, cutting out distributors and wholesalers.
According to NPR, Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of the food business for Wal-Mart U.S. says the company will source as much as 80 percent of its fruits and vegetables directly from growers, eliminating the need for a "middleman"—a common step in the grocery business that adds costs to the consumers. The focus is to increase the amount of fresh produce sold in each store, said Sinclair.
While this could mean fresher and less expensive fruit and vegetable options for Wal-Mart shoppers, NPR reports that the chain is struggling to properly staff its locations, and the elimination of distributors and wholesalers could mean more work for Wal-Mart employees. Many of the stores currently are failing to efficiently stock shelves and manage rotations of perishable foods.
Along with the move to direct sourcing, Wal-Mart says it will launch a training program for approximately 70,000 employees to help them identify when fruits and vegetables should be pulled from the shelves and replaced with fresher options. As well, they'll learn how best to handle and identify various types of produce.
Wal-Mart is also enacting a 100-percent guarantee policy on its produce for its customers. Any shopper unsatisfied with their fruit or vegetable purchases can return to the store for a refund. The half-eaten tomato need not accompany shoppers; Sinclair says customers just need to bring in their receipts for a "no questions asked" refund.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger