BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the nation’s largest grocer, is phasing out the Wild Oats brand and has pulled the plug on its Price First private label brand. The move comes about two years after the Bentonville-based company made headlines with its plans to partner with Wild Oats to offer organic food items that would be at least 25% less expensive than the national organic brands it carried.
As part of the initiative, Wal-Mart carried a broad range of products — from salsa and pasta sauce to quinoa and chicken broth — in about half of its 4,000 U.S. stores.
|Jack Sinclair, executive vice-president of grocery at Wal-Mart U.S.|
“We know our customers are interested in purchasing organic products, and, traditionally, those customers have had to pay more,” Jack Sinclair, executive vice-president of grocery at Wal-Mart U.S., said in April 2014 when the partnership was first announced. “We are changing that and creating a new price position for organic groceries that increases access. This is part of our ongoing effort to use our scale to deliver quality, affordable groceries to our customers.”
Reached by Food Business News, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart declined to discuss the specifics of the Wild Oats brand or its phase-out, but noted that organics remain an important category for the company. He said the retailer will be adding more types of organic foods under its generic store brand, Great Value, along with adding items from national brands of all sizes.
While Wild Oats may no longer be sold at Wal-Mart, the Boulder, Colo.-based company believes the relaunch of the brand has opened the door for future growth.
“When we re-launched the brand two years ago we sought to do something that was previously thought impossible — lower prices to make certified organic products more accessible to the masses,” Wild Oats noted in a May 2 blog posting. “Through our initial strategic partnership, we were not only able to exceed our sales expectations, but also develop the tools and learning needed to take the Wild Oats brand to the next level.
“Now, we are ready for the next phase of our plan, which is to expand the line to multiple retailers and bring more exciting and inventive products to market.”
A spokesperson for Wild Oats said that while the company’s products will be phased out of Wal-Mart, Wild Oats is “working hard on expanding shopping options.”
“At this time we are unsure of where we will be selling our products,” the spokesperson said.
In addition to Wild Oats, Wal-Mart has pulled the plug on Price First, an opening price point private label line that debuted in 2014. Peanut butter, pasta, snacks, baking mixes and condiments were among items offered at significantly lower prices than branded products under the Price First label.The Wal-Mart spokesperson said the company determined that the quality and price point of its Great Value brand is such that the Price First label was not necessary.