Will Walmart’s Latest Move Be the Tipping Point for Organic Food?

Wild Oats Canned Tomatoes

Last week, Walmart announced that it would start selling organic food at “non-organic prices”. The grocery behemoth struck a deal with Wild Oats to sell organic foods at affordable price points. Wild Oats is a mini-Whole Foods, which was actually acquired by its bigger rival, but then divested after a court ruling that the merger would decrease competition in the organic food market.

According to Walmart, 9 out of 10 of its customers would buy organic food if it was cheap enough. The Wild Oats products will be priced 25% lower than other organic brands.

“If we can make that price premium disappear, we think it will grow much, much faster,” Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of grocery at Walmart U.S., said of the retailer’s small but faster-growing organic sales. Read more from Reuters…

Organic is only 4% of the total market. Now that Walmart is moving in, that number is expected to grow. But will there be enough supply to match demand? It takes several years for farmers to convert their land from conventional to organic. Will Walmart and Wild Oats offer some sort of guarantees and support for farmers during the transition period?

Only time will tell, but this is certainly a positive move with a potential to start a snowball rolling.

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  • rubicon bill

    Looks promising. I hope it spreads!

  • Floozefactor

    I don’t feel as though there will ever be anything “organic” about Walmart.

  • Stardust

    I’m sorry, but all of Wal-Mart’s “fresh” produce just looks “dead”. But Kroger’s produce is beautiful and looks as if it was delivered moments ago…..and tastes way better.

    • jen

      It depends on where you are located. The Walmart closest to me is horrible, but the one closest to my parents’ home is awesome and fresh! We live in the same state but are about 3.5 hours away from each other.

  • julcraft

    I feel that if Walmart moved to organics with the quality of wildoats and/or wholefoods, I would more then willing to return shopping at Walmart and be happy to pay a little more for organics…..let’s hope it happens!

  • mayohater

    Canned organic food? No thanks.

  • Cactus_Wren

    At Grist there’s a very good piece on “Why you should be skeptical of Walmart’s cheap organic food“. There’s serious concern that this could lead to “industrial organic practices”, in which “farmers adhere to just the bare minimum of organic standards and ultimately end up depleting soil health on a piece of land, abandoning it, and moving on to another”. Mark Smallwood, the executive director of Rodale, points out that the notion of a “premium” for organic food is fallacious, because the price point reflects the cost of production:

    “The issue is that there aren’t the subsidies available to organic farmers that there are [for conventional farmers.] So there’s a questionin my mind about how Walmart is going to pull this off and be able to make profit,” Smallwood said. “And for them to even come out and make that statement before they’ve started is a huge question mark. Somebody’s going to have to pay, and my hope is that it’s not the organic farmer.”

    • ARosas

      Good point Cactus! The same thing did cross my mind. If walmart has it’s hand in this….something is bound to go bad at some point. After all, this is all about the money…ahem…I mean customers well being.

  • enayday

    Where I Leave Wegmans Still Has The Best Looking And Largest Organic And Health Food Section Around Interns Of asupermarket

  • Nancy B

    Why support the spread of empoyee low wages, food stamps, and the amassing of billions by a single family? Very sad that Wild Oats picked such a community killing partner… bring it to Costco… and I’m all for it! Strike a deal with regional / local grocery chaibs.. awesome! Add to the race to the bottom that is WalMart?? No way!

    • Dave

      Just so u know,The unions are behind all the negative propaganda because Walmart will not let them in.If someone at WM does not like the pay then move on.Know one is making them work there.Whats wrong with one family making billions of dollars .I would love to as would most people.

  • maddiesmom

    Hoping this is true and if so it will spread that organic is better for everyone!!

  • Karrina

    Does anyone know when this will start taking place? Did it already happen? Lol sorry I don’t go to Walmart often

  • mickjen80

    As much as I hate supporting Wal-Mart, its the cheapest alternative in my area, especially compared to the Wild Oats. I’m eagerly awaiting the Farmers Market, but am asking all the grocery stores to start including local food. $13 raw honey at Wild Oats is ridiculous! But with no car, I can’t buy from the farms directly until the June 14th market opens!

  • benjamincgessel

    I am extremely, extremely skeptical about all this…