Walmart Launches Fresh Produce Guarantee in U.S. Stores

Published in CSP Daily News

Offering 100% money-back guarantee, making changes across sourcing, training, operations

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's largest grocer and seller of produce, has unveiled efforts that will ensure the quality and freshness of the fruits and vegetables that it offers customers. The retailer is standing behind this promise by rolling out a 100% money-back guarantee and making changes across produce sourcing, training and operations. If customers are not completely satisfied with Walmart's produce, they can bring back their receipt for a full refund. No questions asked and no need to bring back the produce.

"We're listening to our customers and delivering on our promise to offer great produce at the most affordable price," said Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of the food business for Walmart U.S. "We are so sure our customers will be pleased with the fruits and vegetables they buy in our stores, they can receive a full refund if they aren't completely happy."

The retailer's initiative includes delivering produce from farms to store shelves faster by purchasing fruits and vegetables directly from growers and leveraging Walmart's produce experts, distribution centers and trucking systems; executing independent weekly checks in its more than 3,400 Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Walmart Express stores that sell produce; and launching Fresh Produce Schools and other expanded training programs to 70,000 associates.

"Walmart has always been focused on providing its customers with top-quality fruits and vegetables, including our Cuties brand," said Berne H. Evans III, chairman of Sun Pacific, a Walmart produce supplier. "As a direct result of how Walmart has stored and handled our product, both Cuties and our Ripe and Easy Kiwis have been tremendous sales success stories at Walmart."

To improve quality and freshness, Walmart has hired produce experts to work directly with farmers in the key growing regions where the company has produce-buying offices. Building long-term partnerships with farmers while having Walmart associates in the regions--and in the fields everyday--where produce is grown has made it possible for Walmart to select farmers who grow the best fruits and vegetables, it said. As part of this program, Walmart works closely with local growers in the United States to fulfill its commitment to double the company's sales of locally grown produce by December 2015.

Walmart's produce offices, combined with Walmart's supply chain and trucking network, have enabled the retailer to decrease the days needed to get produce from growers to individual stores. Reducing the number of days produce is in transit has made it possible for Walmart to deliver a fresher product to customers so it lasts longer at home.

Independent teams responsible for checking Walmart produce departments are going into stores each week to ensure that the freshest fruits and vegetables are on Walmart store shelves. Results are reported to every level of store management. Through this program, Walmart is benchmarking itself and its competitors week over week.

Walmart recently launched a produce training program for 70,000 associates. The program features a new produce school where associates--including store managers, market managers and produce department managers from every U.S. Walmart store--learn more about handling fruits and vegetables. The company also equips associates with quality guides that clearly illustrate how to identify top produce.

"Empowering our associates with the tools to guarantee our produce quality is a critical component to our 100 percent money-back guarantee," said Sinclair. "These efforts, combined with the weekly produce checks and operational changes, will ensure our customers bring home the freshest fruits and vegetables."

The announcement follows a number of recent commitments by Walmart to make food healthier and healthier food more affordable. As part of its healthier foods commitment, Walmart has saved customers more than $2.3 billion over the last two years on fresh fruits and vegetables in produce sections across the country.

Wal-Mart Stores has more than 10,800 stores under 69 banners in 27 countries and e-commerce websites in 10 countries. With fiscal year 2013 sales of approximately $466 billion, Walmart employs more than 2.2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity.