Walmart is creating totally new kinds of food in a secret laboratory to compete with Amazon
- Walmart invented a cantaloupe that stays sweet year-round, tomatoes that can ship long distances without rotting, and a yellow-skinned watermelon.
- The retailer is growing the foods from seeds in a secret laboratory.
- Walmart is modifying food to differentiate its grocery offering from Amazon.
Walmart is creating new fruits and vegetables to better compete with Amazon.
The retailer has invented a cantaloupe called Sweet Spark that stays sweet year-round, tomatoes that can ship long distances without rotting, and a yellow-skinned watermelon with a consistently "unbelievable" flavor, NPR's Julia Dewitt reports.
The fruits and vegetables are grown from seeds in a "secret" laboratory at Walmart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, according to NPR's report.
Walmart has also experimented with new food pairings in the lab, including birthday cake flavored oatmeal and fruit punch flavored pickles, which the company named Tropickles.
Walmart started selling the Tropickles in stores in July under its private-label Great Value brand. The pickles have a five-star rating on Walmart.com.
"On biting into it (nicely crunchy) I tasted first a slight saltiness, then a light refreshing hint of fruit followed by a taste of fresh cucumber and a delicately sweet aftertaste," one reviewer wrote. "I could see these served with smoked pork or herb roasted chicken, or replacing the cranberries in one of the grape and walnut chicken salads."
Walmart is offering taste-tests of its new offerings in stores.
"When a piece of fruit or vegetable looks odd, at first, you know, people really have to try hard, you know, to taste it," Victor Verlage, senior director of sourcing at Walmart, told NPR. "But if we put demos in the stores, and they love it, then that becomes your best friend because your kid will tell you, mommy, bring me the yellow watermelon that I love."
The food inventions are part of a larger strategy at Walmart to maintain its status as the No. 1 grocer in the US by differentiating its grocery offering from competitors like Amazon, which took a $13.7 billion stake in the food business this year with the purchase of Whole Foods, Dewitt points out.
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