Thursday, January 20, 2011
A food revolution
"Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, will announce a five-year plan on Thursday to make thousands of its packaged foods lower in unhealthy salts, fats and sugars, and to drop prices on fruits and vegetables.
"The initiative came out of discussions the company has been having with Michelle Obama, the first lady, who will attend the announcement in Washington and has made healthy eating and reducing childhood obesity the centerpiece of her agenda. Aides say it is the first time Mrs. Obama has thrown her support behind the work of a single company.
"The plan, similar to efforts by other companies and to public health initiatives by New York City, sets specific targets for lowering sodium, trans fats and added sugars in a broad array of foods — including rice, soups, canned beans, salad dressings and snacks like potato chips — packaged under the company’s house brand, Great Value.
"In interviews previewing the announcement, Wal-Mart and White House officials said the company was also pledging to press its major food suppliers, like Kraft, to follow its example. Wal-Mart does not disclose how much of its sales come from its house brand. But Kraft says about 16 percent of its global sales are through Wal-Mart.
"In addition, Wal-Mart will work to eliminate any extra cost to customers for healthy foods made with whole grains, said Leslie Dach, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president for corporate affairs. By lowering prices on fresh fruits and vegetables, Wal-Mart says it will cut into its own profits but hopes to make up for it in sales volume. “This is not about asking the farmers to accept less for their crops,” he said.
Is this a crime story? You better believe it is!
Poor nutrition and inactivity kill about 300,000 Americans a year, so says the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control). And much of that is due to the foods we eat, that are marketed to us and sold to us by large companies. When those companies change, so too, will we.
Wal-Mart is significant " ... because Wal-Mart sells more groceries than any other company in the country, and because it is such a large purchaser of foods produced by national suppliers." Thus, "nutrition experts say the changes could have a big impact on the affordability of healthy food and the health of American families and children."