Wal-Mart: Affordable Organics Still a Priority

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Responding to claims that it's backing off its ambitious plans to offer a wide range of organic foods, Wal-Mart said yesterday that it's still in the organics game, stocking organic items on a store-by-store basis based on what's appropriate for customers in specific markets.

"It's always been our goal for our locations to be 'stores of the community' and tailor their mix of merchandise to their specific customer base," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jami Arms told Progressive Grocer. "This includes the organic food offerings. We currently have more than 400 organic offerings company-wide for our stores to select from, in order to tailor their individual location's organic assortment relative to their particular customer demand. This is in line with comments made last year, that our stores were doubling their offerings."

BusinessWeek had reported on its Web site yesterday that a number of organic farmers across the country are claiming Wal-Mart is backing off its original plans.

But Arms said the retailer is still working to meet customer demand for organics in its high-demand stores.

"We're continuing to see a demand by many of our customers for organic alternatives, and will always tailor each store's assortment to meet the demand," she said. "That being said, you will see a different variety of organics from store to store, because the customer base varies from store to store."

The average number of organic foods customers might find in higher-demand stores is approximately 200 offerings, she added.

"Our goal to provide affordable organic selections for our customers has not changed," Arms said.
-- Jenny McTaggart
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