Walmart’s recent news that it’s entering the beef industry by developing an end-to-end supply chain for Angus beef marks the latest development in the big retailer’s ongoing mission to ensure consistent supply and greater supply chain transparency while helping to burnish its fresh food cred, where meat is at forefront.
The framework of Walmart’s new Angus beef supply chain strategy will include Texas rancher Bob McClaren of 44 Farms and Prime Pursuits to source the cattle. Mc6 Cattle Feeders will handle feeding the cattle and Creekstone Farms will process it prior to sending it onward to FPL Foods for packing.
In addition to creating a steady demand for cattle ranchers, the world’s largest retailer said its new Angus beef supply chain will create more than 450 jobs, including an estimated 250 new jobs at Creekstone Farms’ Kansas-based processing facility and another more than 200 new roles in Georgia, where Walmart owns a case-ready facility that will be managed by FPL Foods.
“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,” said Scott Neal, SVP of meat for Walmart U.S., in a statement.
Walmart will roll out a selection of Angus beef cuts such as steaks and roasts from its new program in 500 stores across the Southeast, including in Georgia, Alabama and Florida. The Bentonville, Ark.-based chain will continue its rely on Tyson and Cargill to provide the majority of its beef, which is expected to remain in place, according to observers, who pointed to a similar move by Costco last year to create its own poultry production system to ensure a steady supply of its popular rotisserie chicken program.
Noting that “beef is the main event” at the average backyard barbecue, Neal in a recent blog post on Walmart’s corporate website said he and his team “are working to make the beef America eats better. To us, that means more transparency. Customers want freshness and affordability, but they also want to know what’s in their food and where it comes from.”
Further, consumers’ heightened demand for quality mandates greater “visibility into every step in the supply chain,” Neal said. “Beef is an important purchase for our customer [and] likely the most expensive item on their plate; they are treating themselves when they buy it. Creating this supply chain allows us to treat our customers by giving them unprecedented quality and transparency.”
Once the supply chain is in place, Neal’s blog continued, Walmart shoppers “can trust that what they pick up from our meat department will be among the best—and most delicious—meat they can get. Having visibility to the end-to-end process lets us know we are helping our customers bring a consistently great piece of meat to their table every time they buy with us.”
Neal conveyed pride in the chain’s new Angus supply program, which he said is poised to “truly change the dynamics of the beef industry.”