Walmart produce section
Wal-Mart said its customers saved more than $1.09 billion on fresh produce last year.

BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Wal-Mart has announced a comprehensive initiative to improve the health and wellness of its shoppers. In addition to offering a customer healthcare enrollment program and hosting free health screenings at thousands of stores this month, the retail giant said it is working to make nutritious food accessible and affordable. The company said its customers saved more than $1.09 billion on fresh produce last year.

Wal-Mart currently offers more than 1,700 organic products, nearly 10% of which are organic fruits and vegetables. The company said it has expanded its offerings to include new, healthier options by partnering with national brands and innovating within its private label assortment.

In 2011, Wal-Mart committed to reducing the sodium, added sugar and industrially produced trans fats in its private brands and national brands. Through 2014, Wal-Mart said it has reduced sodium and added sugar in the foods sold in its stores by 16% and more than 10%, respectively, and now less than 6% of products contain industrially produced trans fats.

Wal-Mart plans to move protein and nutrition bars from the health food section to the main grocery aisles in some of its stores, too.

To help shoppers make better choices, Wal-Mart has revamped Walmart.com to highlight products across multiple categories, including healthier eating, diet and nutrition, and heart health.

Michelle Gloeckler, Walmart
Michelle Gloeckler, executive v.p., Consumables and Health and Wellness, Wal-Mart U.S.

“There is one thing we can’t put a price on, and that’s the health of our customers,” said Michelle Gloeckler, executive vice-president, Consumables and Health and Wellness, Wal-Mart U.S. “From managing diabetes to running your first 5K and simply putting a healthy dinner on the table, we’re equipping our customers with solutions for total health management which spans from nutrition, fitness, preventative care and treatment.”

The health push follows recent moves by rival Target Corp. to expand its assortment of natural, organic and better-for-you products. Minneapolis-based Target also reportedly is putting healthier foods in place of soft drinks and candy near the cash registers in test markets.

For more information on Wal-Mart’s efforts, go to Walmart.com/healthcare.