ORGANIC ONSLAUGHT

Walmart is finally catching up with the organic products boom

Walmart is making moves to beef up its organic section.
Walmart is making moves to beef up its organic section.
Image: REUTERS/Jim Young
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It started as a quick way to get organic food onto Walmart’s shelves and keep up with competitors.

Two years later the world’s largest retailer is ending its relationship with the Wild Oats organic food brand, reports The Wall Street Journal. The brand accounts for only some of Walmart’s organic food offerings, as the company stocks more of its own private-label organics, as well as those from national brands. Organic foods include fresh foods and vegetables which can be identified by purple shelf tags.

A spokesperson for Walmart declined to comment about the discontinuation of Wild Oats, which is owned by private-equity firm Yucaipa Cos.

Sales of packaged organic foods in the US increased by 106% between 2005 and 2016, sparking big acquisitions and a lot of market reshuffling. Berkeley, California-based Annie’s Homegrown was purchased in September 2014 by General Mills for $820 million. Pepsico bought Naked Juice in November 2006.

Walmart, the largest grocer in the US, has been relatively slow to add a wide variety of organic products to its shelves, in part because of costly production and supply chain changes.  Now it’s using those very products—including bananas and berries—to lure more customers into its stores.