#6 story of 2009: Wal-Mart raises questions with prices, perishables management - The Packer

#6 story of 2009: Wal-Mart raises questions with prices, perishables management

01/04/2010 12:16:05 PM
Dan Galbraith

Wal-Mart grabbed headlines for a variety of other reasons in 2009 as well:

In October, Wal-Mart’s 39-cent bananas raised analysts’ queries.

Wal-Mart’s attempt to widen the gap between its prices and its competitors’ by lowering prices on thousands of items, including fresh bananas, made some analysts nervous about how banana suppliers were going to handle the change.

The Associated Press called Wal-Mart’s tactic a price war, saying the company’s buying power allows it to undercut rivals.

In August, Wal-Mart announced plans to buy apples directly from growers.

One Washington apple industry source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Wal-Mart is opening a buying office in Yakima to command all buying functions.

Maureen Royal, director of sales for CF Fresh, Sedro-Woolley, Wash., said there are rumors that Wal-Mart will locate its office at a Yakima packing shed.

“(Wal-Mart people) are coming in and going more direct with growers,” she said. “They look to that so they can take the middle person out.”

Over the summer, Wal-Mart encouraged sustainability.

In May, Craig Herkert left his job as president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart of the Americas to serve as chief executive officer for Minneapolis-based Supervalu Inc.

In April, a Salinas, Calif. ban on Wal-Mart irked produce companies.

In February, Wal-Mart announced plans to double its share of the Massachusetts supermarket business over the next year.

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