Walmart on a health mission

WASHINGTON — Walmart joined First Lady Michelle Obama in Washington Thursday to unveil a comprehensive effort to provide its customers with healthier and more affordable food choices.

The program will involve five key elements, including:

  • Reformulating thousands of everyday packaged food items by 2015 by reducing sodium by 25% and added sugars by 10%, and by removing all remaining industrially produced trans fats. The company will work with suppliers to improve the nutritional quality of national food brands and its Great Value private-label brand in key product categories to complete the reformulations;

  • Making healthier choices more affordable, saving customers approximately $1 billion per year on fresh fruits and vegetables through a variety of sourcing, pricing, and transportation and logistics initiatives that will drive unnecessary costs out of the supply chain. Walmart also will dramatically reduce or eliminate the price premium on key “better-for-you” items, such as reduced sodium, sugar or fat products;

  • Developing strong criteria for a simple front-of-package seal that will help consumers instantly identify truly healthier food options, such as whole-grain cereal, whole-wheat pasta or unsweetened canned fruit;

  • Providing solutions to address food deserts by building stores in underserved communities that are in need of fresh and affordable groceries; and

  • Increasing charitable support for nutrition programs that help educate consumers about healthier food solutions and choices.

"No family should have to choose between food that is healthier for them and food they can afford," said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. "With more than 140 million customer visits each week, Walmart is uniquely positioned to make a difference by making food healthier and more affordable to everyone. We are committed to working with suppliers, government and nongovernmental organizations to provide solutions that help Americans eat healthier and live a better life."