OPERATIONS

Where’s the beef? Walmart knows

BY Dan Berthiaume

Walmart is entering the beef industry with a big push toward supply chain transparency.

The discount titan, whose business includes a major fresh grocery segment, is developing an end-to-end supply chain for Angus beef. Working with what it calls “best-in-class” cattle ranchers, feeders, processors, and packagers, Walmart will start selling Angus beef cuts like steaks and roasts in 500 stores across a number of southeastern states, including Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.

“As clean labels, traceability and transparency become more and more important to customers, we’ve made plans to enter into the beef industry creating an unmatched system that allows us to deliver consistent quality and value,” said Scott Neal, senior VP, meat, Walmart U.S. “By enlisting a number of best-in-class companies to take part in the supply chain, we’ll be able to provide customers with unprecedented quality, provide transparency throughout the supply chain, and leverage the learnings we gain across our business.”

Walmart says its new beef supply chain effort will create a steady demand for ranchers and feed yards, and create more than 250 jobs in Kansas at its supply chain partner Creekstone Farms’ beef processing facility. The retailer also says another 200-plus will be created in Georgia, where it owns a case-ready facility that will be run by supply chain partner FPL Food.

While Walmart is stressing that its new beef supply chain will provide full visibility at every step from source to shelf, and be transparent to customers, the retailer is not providing details on what systems and/or processes will enable this level of real-time insight. Walmart also has not given a specific date when the supply chain will be fully operational, or when Angus beef sales will start at select Walmart stores.

Agricultural companies Tyson Foods and Cargill currently provide Walmart with most of its beef products, and will continue to do so. But this move will reduce the amount of Angus beef Walmart obtains from outside suppliers.

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