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Walmart’s Secret Food Laboratory Offers Competitive Edge

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A recent Planet Money episode reported Walmart’s newest venture—inventing food. The popular NPR program and podcast visited Walmart’s Culinary & Innovation Center to try the “Tropickle,” a bright red pickle infused with tropical fruit punch.

With increased competition from Amazon in the grocery sector after the Seattle-based ecommerce site acquired Whole Foods in August, Walmart is getting creative to protect its place in the grocery space, Planet Money reports.

The strategy is to “sell food Amazon can’t possibly have—that no one else has—the kind of food you might have to invent in a secret laboratory hidden in Bentonville, Ark.,” said reporter Julia DeWitt.

The results have been interesting. Walmart’s senior director of sourcing, Victor Verlage showed off a yellow-rind watermelon from the lab. The color, he said, was originally an accident, but offers a competitive edge because it’s so easy to identify.

Employees test new foods in the Sensory Lab, rating everything from chicken poblano burrito bowls to birthday cake flavored oatmeal.

If consumers want a sweet and salty snack like the “Tropickle,” they won’t be able to find them at Amazon, and that exclusivity that the lab could be the key to staying on top of the grocery empire.

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You are here: Home News In Brief Walmart’s Secret Food Laboratory Offers Competitive Edge