If you’ve ever routinely shopped at Walmart for their low prices, you’ve likely tried their grocery section and at least glanced at their produce. You may have noticed that Walmart’s produce tends to be slightly sad-looking. Why is this? Why is Walmart’s produce so bad?
Walmart’s produce is often a bit lower-quality than its competitors and sometimes arrives at the store moldy, over-ripe, or damaged. Suppliers may ship excessive quantities of one kind of produce, forcing the store to over-fill, with many fruits or vegetables going bad in the process. In addition, many Walmart locations need more staff to inspect and remove spoiled or sup-par produce properly.
Keep reading to learn more about the Walmart produce reception and stocking process and why many Walmarts struggle to supply good-looking fruits and vegetables.
Why Does Walmart Produce Stink?
Maybe not literally, though over-ripe fruit in the middle of Summer can be a bit much. The question as to why Walmart struggles to supply high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables originates in Walmart’s low-price standard, as well as challenges that come with trying to be a little bit of everything and staffing issues.
We’ll start with the role played by Walmart’s historical and continued emphasis on helping customers get the lowest possible price for the items they’re purchasing. This is a good goal with the well-meaning intention of helping working families afford necessities, but these low prices often mean that the quality of the items sold may suffer.
For example, Walmart may partner with fresh fruit and vegetable suppliers whose quality standards are a bit lower or who take the lowest possible price for their goods. This helps pass savings on to customers and means that the highest-quality items will be available to something other than Walmart shoppers. You’ll get whole ginger, but you’ll get it only sporadically, and it’ll be on the tiny side, shriveled, and not very fresh. It is, however, 20-30% cheaper than the whole ginger at the competition.
In addition, partnering with cheaper suppliers means that some food is already over-ripe, moldy, spoiled, or squished. In a rush to move items to the sales floor, it can be easy to miss this, and items already past their prime may slip past right off the truck.
Being Stretched Thin Doesn’t Help
Walmart is known for selling almost everything. It’s a hardware store, a clothing store, a grocery store, an electronics store, a smoke shop, and a bakery. This means you can get most things you need at Walmart, but it also means that the company needs more time, attention, and money to make their grocery store the best possible.
Contrast this with grocery competitors such as Whole Foods or Publix, who invest quite a lot of money and manpower into ensuring that everything is high-quality, well-stocked, and freshly sourced from the best suppliers possible. They have the extra money to spend on high-quality produce, as they’re not also having to stock computers, tablets, clothing, and furniture.
They can also focus on doing one thing, and doing it well, which is something that Supercenters can’t manage. Walmart Neighborhood Markets have attempted to address this issue by focusing solely on groceries. While their quality is a bit higher, their prices are higher than at a Supercenter.
Overstock Contributes to Spoilage
In addition to shipping low-quality produce, Walmart’s suppliers sometimes send the store a massive quantity of a single type of fruit or vegetable. For example, a supplier may send a month’s supply of Rainier cherries on a single truck.
Now, it’s up to the staff to find a place on the sales floor to put it and hope and pray that customers are really in the mood for Rainier cherries. If not, the cherries will sit and will begin to decay if not purchased. Even when the fruit is stored in temperature-controlled units, it will eventually go bad. So, suppliers shipping a massive quantity of one kind of item can also contribute to poor quality.
Staffing Issues Contribute
You may have noticed that your local Walmart has far fewer employees on the sales floor than it used to. You can sometimes walk aisle after aisle in some locations and only see a few workers. The staffing cuts have happened over the past decade to 15 years and have responded to Walmart’s increasing wages for base starting pay.
While workers get paid more, the company has sharply decreased the number of staff at each location, meaning that every department has to make do with far fewer workers per shift than in years past. This has an effect all over the store and produce no exception.
One or two people commonly work an entire truck’s worth of produce by themselves in the morning. This means unloading it from pallets, stocking it, and making sure it is binned into refrigerated storage off the sales floor if it’s overstocked. This is a lot of work for one or two people, and low-quality items can easily get missed or accidentally stocked during this process, especially if they’re in a rush.
The smaller staff sizes also mean less time for checking the quality of produce on the sales floor. So, while staff previously had the time and the manpower to go hunting for over-ripe or spoiled sales floor produce, the extra eyes and hands it takes to do this aren’t available anymore.
Walmart often needs help to provide its customers with high-quality fruits and vegetables thanks to a commitment to keep prices low. These low prices often mean that the quality of produce is poorer or smaller.
In addition, Walmart seeks to do a great deal in every department and can’t concentrate its financial and retail attention on grocery exclusively. This is in contrast to other grocery stores, where all of the corporation’s attention can be on quality and on partnering with good suppliers.
Finally, staffing issues mean fewer workers to help inspect and remove low-quality produce during unloading and after stocking. The produce department may now consist of only one or two people per shift, with insufficient manpower to carefully inspect incoming or stocked produce.
Hi there, I’m JJ, and welcome To EverydayQuery! Founded in 2022, we created this project to be the most complete resource on the web for your everyday questions regarding retail, shopping experiences, and overall consumer questions. We’re a team of passionate consumers whose mission is to provide the best answers to your everyday questions.