Walmart and Whole Foods go head-to-head in organic battle

Walmart and Whole Foods go head-to-head in organic battle

The wholesomely stocked shelves at Whole Foods (Photo by Hoodrat) 

Developing a hate-on for corporations and big-box retailers is a pastime of many, but it may be time for a paradigm shift. The Atlantic’s Corby Kummer was recently taken aback by the quantity of fresh, locally sourced produce available at—cue cringes—a Walmart super-centre, which stocked many of the products sold at Whole Foods.

Kummer was so intrigued by Walmart’s selection (free-range organic eggs, all-natural, hormone-free milk and organic meat) that he decided a blind taste test was in order: Walmart vs. Whole Foods. In purchasing ingredients for the showdown, which was refereed by a panel of critics, bloggers and food lovers, Kummer spent significantly less at Walmart than he did at Whole Foods for nearly identical ingredients.

The verdict? Walmart held its own in a big way. Much to their chagrin, the panel members often preferred Walmart’s products over Whole Foods’, including almonds and fresh greens. Kummer found that the corporate giant has (in the name of profit, of course) made inroads into the organic and locavore movement, participating in a number of little-known programs that aim to rebuild local farming communities. An interesting notion, coming from a retailer with a reputation for undermining local economies.

Both Whole Foods and Walmart are set to increase their Canadian presence. Two new Whole Foods are scheduled to arrive in Toronto, and Walmart has ambitions to become “the fastest-growing retailer in Canada.” With some of Kummer’s revelations in mind, it may be time to stop hating Walmart simply for the sake of it.

The great grocery smackdown [Atlantic]
Wal-mart to expand, other retailers wary [Toronto Star]
• Two more Whole Foods outlets are coming to Toronto [Toronto Life]