Wal-Mart Will Capitalize on Food Distribution, or Solving the Problem of Affordable Nutrition

Depending on how you personally feel about Wal-Mart and it’s economic impact on local business combined with its massive distribution scale, will probably say a lot on how you feel about them making nutrition into a commodity that Wal-Mart does.

One the one hand it’s only natural to be suspicious of their reasoning behind their “plan to reduce the salt, sugar, and saturated fats in its private-label products, and to encourage its suppliers of branded goods to do the same.” Especially when their costumers don’t seem to care, nor is their any financial incentive to do so (at least on the surface, since Wal-Mart wouldn’t do anything if there wasn’t a profit motivation).  On the other hand, if any company could seriously impact the way Americans eat positively it would be Wal-Mart.

If any company has the power to buy locally and help subsidize local farmers it would be Wal-Mart.

It is because Wal-Mart has reached its gargantuan size that it feels able to take on the burden of making packaged food healthier. (The same is true of its earlier efforts to go green in its packaging and logistics, and to prod suppliers to do so in their operations.) As The New York Times put it, “because Wal-Mart sells more groceries than any other company in the country, and because it is such a large purchaser of foods produced by national suppliers, nutrition experts say the changes could have a big impact on the affordability of healthy food and the health of American families and children.”Indeed, the Times goes on to share an opinion, which I also hold, that “the company has almost as much power as federal regulators to shape the marketplace.”

Cynical of their motivations, but I applaud them just the same. Any shake up, with the potential to disrupt, to the current food distribution and manufacturing system in America is a good thing.

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