BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Fruits and vegetables sold at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. will be fresh – or consumers get their money back. The world’s largest retailer has “recommitted” to its promise and made changes to its supply chain in an effort to ensure the freshness of the produce it sells.
Produce supply chain enhancements the company is implementing include delivering produce from farms to store shelves faster by purchasing fruits and vegetables directly from growers; adding weekly checks at the retailer’s supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Express Stores to review the quality of the produce being sold; and introducing expanded employee training programs to ensure product quality.
Wal-Mart said it has hired “produce experts” to work directly with growers. The on-farm efforts combined with the supply chain Wal-Mart has in place is allowing it to reduce the number of days it takes to get products from the fields and on to store shelves.
The employee training program will involve 70,000 throughout its network of U.S. stores and focus on the proper handling of fruits and vegetables. Through the training store employees also will be given guides that illustrate quality grades.
“Empowering our associates with the tools to guarantee our produce quality is a critical component to our 100% money-back guarantee,” said Jack Sinclair, executive vice-president of the food business for Wal-Mart U.S. “These efforts, combined with the weekly produce checks and operational changes, will ensure our customers bring home the freshest fruits and vegetables.”
The effort to improve the quality of Wal-Mart’s produce is part of a larger effort announced by the company several years ago — to double its sales of locally grown produce by December 2015.