Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Wal-Mart Throws Us Another Curve Ball

I went on a bit of a binge last year when Wal-Mart announced new energy efficiency measures and opened "green" stores in Texas and Colorado. Now, the retail giant has more green(ish) plans: they want to double their offering of organic foods. From

Wal-Mart's senior vice president of marketing, Stephen Quinn, said the retailer would have more than 400 stock-keeping units of organic foods in its stores this summer at the kind of low price points that have long been the company's bread and butter.

"I'm excited that Wal-Mart is really getting into the area of organics," Quinn said at the conference. "This is an area where our customers have clearly told us they want more. People feel better about organic foods, and the customer we're going after is the customer who is really interested in the intangible benefits that come from organics."

The article goes on to say that Wal-Mart not only wants to take a bigger share of the organic market from Whole Foods and Wild Oats, but that it's attempting to create more "intangible" attractions for a higher-end crowd that's not particulary drawn to the company's "low-price leader" branding. This will certainly have many of us on the progressive side talking again, I'm sure. I'm happy to see the world's largest company taking these steps, but it's still hard to imagine how Wal-Mart can ever really become a green company with its big-box model. That notion of creating a rift in the progressive community still comes to mind.

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