Wal-Mart has a problem with not-so-fresh groceries
On top of empty shelves and long checkout lines, the giant retailer is also struggling with expired produce and other goods.
After Wal-Mart (WMT) got into the grocery business two decades ago, the company wooed consumers with low prices on dry goods and produce.
But its fresh foods -- such as produce, meat, and bakery and deli items -- are now becoming a headache as dwindling staffing leads to not-so-fresh items lingering on shelves, according to The New York Times.
That was backed up by a Reddit user, who on Tuesday posted a photo of a dozen glazed yeast donuts he bought at a Wal-Mart in Kentucky. The packaging had three "best by" stickers on it, with the older, expired stickers covered by those with more recent dates.
That's not going to help Wal-Mart's image, which is already hurting after a Bloomberg report said the retailer lacked enough workers to keep its shelves properly stocked. As MSN moneyNOW reported Tuesday, Wal-Mart said the story isn't representative of what's happening countrywide with its locations.
But the problem certainly appears to be hurting consumers' confidence in Wal-Mart's grocery business, The Times reports.
Citing internal notes from a meeting of top Wal-Mart managers held last month, the newspaper reports that the retailer's customers are 48% confident in its fresh produce. By comparison, Safeway (SWY) customers are 71% confident in its produce.
That might explain why Wal-Mart has just a 15% share in fresh grocery items while its dry grocery maintains a 20% share, according to data in the article.
Even more startling are Wal-Mart's per-store employee figures. Before the recession started in 2007, each Wal-Mart and Sam's Club location had an average of 338 employees. That has dwindled to only 281, The Times says.
As a result, keeping shelves stocked is a problem. The Wal-Mart meeting's notes reflect this, with one saying, "1 hour out of Refrigeration = 1 day less product life,” according to the publication.
Wal-Mart is working on fixing the issue by not stocking food at night and by adding secret shoppers to report on grocery quality. "What we're trying to do this year is really accelerate the produce side of our business with better quality," Jack Sinclair, a Wal-Mart executive for food, told The Times.
But Wal-Mart apparently doesn't want consumers to know about its doughnut problems: The Reddit user said he posted his photo of the old donuts twice to the retailer's Facebook page and says the picture was deleted each time.
The bigger question for Wal-Mart will be whether disgruntled customers can be convinced its salad days aren't expired.
Instead of hiring "secret shoppers" why don't they just hire more employees ?
"Why this attack on Wal-Mart????"
Because we want out Main Streets and economy back. Walton family heirs are the equivalent in wealth to 130 million Americans. They are inheritors who have used ruthless tactics to put free enterprise out of business. There would never have been a Wal-Mart if the founder wasn't able to do what he did. Its time to throw administrative terrorism and retained law out of America. I'll take risky free enterprise over being assimilated like cattle every day. You American? Start acting like it.
Not to mention how high the prices are getting at wal mart. They are no longer the inexpensive store that lured us there, Winco is way cheaper for food products.
My wife and I have been boycotting walmart for a while now and are happy with Winco and costco.
Wal-Mart has horrible food produce and bakery. Oh, and when are they going to get a handle on customers using their food stamps or food assistance cards to buy carts of grocery only to return half of the items for a refund.
What a waste of food and tax payers money.
Wal-Mart's produce never was as fresh as I've found elsewhere in more upscale groceries. I can't find a good apple at the two stores within 5 miles of us. They look and taste like they were trucked in from South America on an open flatbed truck. You do get what you pay for.
As for Wal-Mart chasing out the competition, not here. Krogers, Food Lion, Martins, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and a boatload of local grocers that offer good value for quality products are doing just fine in this neck of the woods. Personally, I buy my dry goods, milk and bread at Wal-Mart. Everything else, is bought elsewhere.
That is the key, "Good Value". When you have to throw out a day old head of lettuce, or your clothes fall apart in the wash, that's not good value. The Value buy, which Wal-Mart was built on, has given way to cheap at any cost..
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