Attention Walmart Shoppers, Walmart has partnered with the First Lady, Michelle Obama and is announcing a campaign to cut the amount of sodium, sugar and trans fats from thousands of its store brand products and encourage its suppliers to do the same. So what does that mean for Walmart's suppliers that produce similar packaged goods without "healthier" versions? Well Walmart is hoping that it positively encourages other company's to follow suit and also look to reduce sodium, added sugar, and trans fats from their product lines too. If you want to sell you product to Walmart you need to meet their qualifications, so Walmart publicly announcing its commitment to reduce sodium, sugar, and trans fats from thousands of products has to be a win for all Walmart Shoppers, and that effects a lot of shoppers! So in this case, I'm excited to hear about Walmart's commitment to creating healthier products and am encouraged that their actions will encourage healthier changes to all its suppliers products.
Why is this a good thing? Lots of people shop at Walmart, so now lots of normal, everyday people will have more healthy choices to select from. This change will affect many of the packaged and boxed products that line Walmarts shelves and refrigerated sections - and Walmart's commitment is to reduce sodium but 25% and added sugars by 10%. Their plan sounds like its off to a good start, tackling lunch meats, salad dressings, and fruit juices that are high in added sugar or sodium but not realized by most consumers. In addition to trying to have more healthy packaged food options, Walmart has made a commitment to sell more fresh fruits and vegetables and make them cheaper for consumers.
This is one example of how a large company can make a big impact on what people are eating, encouraging packaged foods to be made healthier. Those who are still eating packaged foods will have slightly healthier options, but maybe the big win here is really in increasing awareness of the amount of added sugar, sodium, and trans fats that are in many foods in the Standard American Diet. Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming that I think packaged foods are healthy, but its good to raise awareness of what you are really eating when you are consuming packaged foods. It will be interesting to see how companies respond to this, also to see how their products evolve. The general industry trend is when you take something out e.g., sodium or fat, you have to add something else back in e.g., sugar. So by committing to tackle trans fats, sodium, and sugar the food companies may actually create healthier products.
I am really interested in the commitment to having more fresh fruits and vegetables available for lower prices in the store - I don't believe that eating healthy has to be "expensive." If you compare the price of a box of sugary cereal to a dozen eggs, eating healthy seems like it could be less expensive if you stopped buying all the packaged stuff that food companies are trying to sell you and stick to the whole foods that are not advertised like eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, meat and seafood. In my opinion flashy packages, TV commercials, magazine ads and celebrity endorsements are trying to sell a sub par product at too expensive a price. And if you think about it, do you really want to eat something that has a 6 month to 1 year shelf life? Personally, I'd rather stick with fresh foods.