Safer, healthier food & other products
SASB: CG-MR-410a.2; CG-AA-250a.2; CG-AA-430b.3; FB-FR-260a.2; FB-PF-250a.2
GRI: 416-1; 417-1
UN SDGs: 2, 12
S G | Last Updated: July 7, 2021
We aim to improve the lives of millions of people around the world by providing access to safer, more affordable food and products; educating and engaging people on food safety, nutrition and product safety; and facilitating industry innovation to promote access to safer, healthier options for food and other products (for example, sustainable chemistry).
Key goals & metrics
|Number of independent food safety audits conducted at Walmart stores and clubs globally||> 140,000||> 138,000||> 190,000|
|Number of associates trained in at least one food safety course||> 290,000|
|In 2016, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation committed to invest $25 million in projects to advance food safety in China over five years||Amount invested in projects to date||> $15 million||> $22.5 million||On track to meet investment goal of $25 million by the end of 2021|
|Access to affordable, nutritious food|
|Food donations in the U.S.48||> 640 million lbs.||> 585 million lbs.||> 627 million lbs.|
|Food donations globally||CY2018|
> 720 million lbs.
> 680 million lbs.
> 745 million lbs.
|Note: Metrics reported for previous calendar year||CY2017||CY2018||CY2019|
|Number of formulated consumable products in scope sold by Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs in the U.S.||> 125,000||> 145,000|
|By 2022, we aim to reduce our footprint of priority chemicals197 in formulated consumables by 10% compared to our 2017 baseline||Percent change versus baseline year (2017)||1% increase||5% decrease|
|Total weight of priority chemicals||215.9 million lbs.|
|218.6 million lbs.193||206.2 million lbs.194|
|Priority chemical weight as a percent of total formulated consumables weight||1.97%||1.92%||1.85%|
See all data and progress toward goals and commitments in our ESG Data Table.
Relevance to our business & society
Sam Walton founded Walmart in 1962 to meet the needs of communities for access to consumer goods.
Nearly 60 years later, Walmart’s ability to provide safer, more affordable food and other products for customer households around the world is core to our business success and to our mission to help people save money and live better.
Our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders expect us to create value for our business and for society by upholding high standards of safety for the products in our assortment; educating and engaging consumers and the public on food safety, nutrition and product safety; and encouraging innovation in product development and distribution to promote access to safer, healthier options.
Providing safer, healthier and more affordable food and other products is central to our mission to help people save money and live better. Our efforts include policies, standards and practices to sustain the safety and quality of our assortment, while engaging our customers and working with others on industry-wide efforts in consumer education, food and product safety, and access to safer, more affordable, healthier products.
- Food safety: Walmart is committed to providing safer, higher-quality food for our customers. In addition to promoting a positive food safety culture within our organization, we engage suppliers, coalitions, research institutions and others in our industry to foster a safer food system.
- Access to affordable, nutritious food: Through our omni-channel food offering, customer engagement, food donations and other philanthropic investments of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation, we aim to make it easier for people to choose healthier food options.
- Product safety: Walmart is committed to providing our customers and members with access to safer, compliant and more affordable merchandise, while pursuing initiatives to promote safer use and formulation of products across the industry (e.g., responsible marketing efforts, opioid stewardship, sustainable chemistry).
Key strategies & progress
Walmart is committed to providing safer, higher-quality food for our customers. In addition to promoting a positive food safety culture within our organization, we engage suppliers, coalitions, research institutions and others in our industry to foster a safer food system.
Responsibility for food safety lies with every Walmart associate and supplier. Walmart maintains a Global Food Safety Compliance Program to assist Walmart associates and suppliers in meeting that expectation. As part of the program, Walmart develops policies, standards, procedures and controls designed to prevent and remediate practices that do not meet our expectations. Walmart’s Food Safety Compliance team comprises experienced food safety professionals who oversee our food safety program.
Policies & standards: Food safety expectations are set forth in our Code of Conduct which was published in 2021, and our Global Food Safety Policy, which was updated in 2021. Both require associates to follow role-specific requirements relevant to food safety. Our Standards for Suppliers require that suppliers take steps to ensure the food they provide us is safe, meets all quality and technical requirements and initiates voluntary and mandatory product recalls where appropriate.
Holding ourselves accountable to safety standards: We assess compliance with Walmart food safety standards, processes and expected behaviors through regular independent, third-party food safety audits of our stores and clubs. We conduct these risk-based audits to verify that our stores and clubs are operating safely and in compliance with our own standards and with applicable laws and regulations. In FY2021, we conducted more than 190,000 independent food safety audits at our stores and clubs globally.
Inspiring safe practices throughout the supply chain: We have long supported the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) as an important part of our effort to promote food safety among suppliers. Walmart is currently active in a number of working groups within GFSI and focuses on supporting science-based food safety audits and GFSI in its aim to strengthen its programs.
The GFSI benchmarked audits and Global Markets program are an element of our private brand supplier approval program. Walmart-owned manufacturing facilities and select national brand suppliers are also required to be certified to one of the GFSI recognized schemes.
Walmart also embraces innovation and technology to improve supply chain transparency and traceability of food. We have worked for years to enable greater transparency in the food ecosystem using blockchain to trace foods sold in our U.S. stores. In 2018, we invited two of our competitors and seven of our suppliers to build this ecosystem with us. Today, more than 300 organizations are part of this ecosystem, which enables greater transparency for consumers and helps us build a smarter, safer, more sustainable food system.
Within Walmart, over the last year, we have tracked over 5 million pallets and recorded over 26 million critical tracking events (such as shipping and receiving) on the blockchain platform across our food supply chains. This enables faster outbreak investigations and has the potential to reduce the scope of a recall and its impact on food waste.
Convening cross-industry professionals to tackle pressing food safety challenges: In 2016, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation announced a commitment to invest $25 million over five years to support research projects in applied science, education and communications that enhance Chinese food safety.
As part of this commitment, Walmart created the Walmart Food Safety Collaboration Center (WFSCC) to focus on innovation, education and policy support in the food safety system. The Center brings together stakeholders across industry, government, academia and trade associations to address the root causes of foodborne illness outbreaks—among other efforts. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are on track to meet our original investment goal of $25 million by the end of 2021.
For more information on our food safety-related initiatives and work in China, please visit walmartfoodsafetychina.com.
Competition spurs innovation in food safety
The Global Food Safety Innovation Pipeline competition organized by the Walmart Food Safety Collaboration Center is designed to identify critical food safety issues, spur fresh thinking and fast-track promising solutions. The 2020 competition drew 125 applicants from across Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North America. During the final November 2020 innovation showcase, 14 finalists shared their solutions.
For more information on our Food Safety program, please visit our Food Safety web page.
Access to affordable, nutritious food
Providing and improving access to affordable, nutritious food is central to Walmart’s business and philanthropic efforts around the world. For example, in FY2021, over 55% of our Walmart U.S. net sales were from grocery items and over 65% of our Sam’s Club net sales were from grocery and consumables.
Our efforts to increase access to affordable, nutritious food include the following:
Improving access to healthier food options
Our omni-channel business model provides convenient access to food and other products for our customers around the globe. In the U.S., our stores and clubs are within 10 miles of approximately 90% of American households, and our eCommerce capabilities allow us to reach many more. We have rolled out pickup in approximately 3,750 Walmart and all 597 Sam’s Club locations, and grocery delivery is in nearly 3,000 Walmart stores.
We have also worked to improve access to online grocery for all customers, regardless of their income level. We recently worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and state agencies to allow customers to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for online grocery shopping (and we worked to scale this option in the first few months of the pandemic, when customers especially wanted low-contact shopping options). Currently, SNAP benefits can be used for pickup in 44 states as well as on Walmart.com.
Walmart is also a significant contributor to community initiatives that address food insecurity through donations of unsold food and philanthropic supporter of organizations to reach the underserved.
For example, in FY2021, Walmart stores, clubs and distribution centers in the U.S. donated more than 627 million pounds of food, 66% of which were fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meats. These donations help to improve food security for those in need and strengthen the charitable meal system—the network of food banks, food pantries and meal programs across the U.S. In 2020, Walmart donated more than 745 million pounds of food globally.
In addition, the Walmart Foundation supports efforts to unlock resources for community-based organizations and entrepreneurs in geographic areas with limited access to food, oftentimes characterized as food deserts and/or swamps, focusing on removing barriers to funding for Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led organizations.
Making it easier to select healthier food options
Through our food offering, customer engagement and philanthropic investments in nutrition education, we aim to make it easier to select healthier food options.
Affordable, nutritious food offering: We manage our food assortment to meet a wide range of customer occasions ranging from tonight’s dinner to birthday celebrations in categories ranging from produce to ice cream. While we are not in the business of telling our customers what to buy, we want to make shopping easier for our customers who have told us they are looking for affordable, healthier options, including private brand products, affordable produce, organic options and alternative protein.
In the U.S., Walmart private brands, including Great Value and Marketside, provide affordable food options in a wide range of categories in-store and online. Walmart also helps customers identify nutritious food options with the “Great for You” icon, which is carried by nearly 8% of qualifying items, including fresh produce and the Great Value, Marketside and Parent’s Choice private brands. The Great for You icon identifies products that meet nutritional criteria informed by guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the USDA and the Institute of Medicine’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. For more information, please visit the Great for You section of our website.
Consistent with our mission to help people save money and live better, we focus on affordability as well as quality of our organics offering. For those seeking meat and dairy alternatives, we offer a variety of plant-based product choices; customers can also view the plant-based section on Walmart.com for breakfast foods, snacks and other items.
Nutrition education in the community: Walmart and the Walmart Foundation also provide philanthropic support to encourage healthier eating by funding programs that teach children and families that fruits and vegetables taste good and are good for you. Through the Healthier Food for All strategy, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation support philanthropic programs that help build people’s confidence in selecting, preparing and serving healthier meals, building on our previous milestone, achieved in 2019, of providing nutrition education to 4 million households. In 2020, the Walmart Foundation provided funding to reach 500,000 people with nutrition education. Two examples of this work are the 4-H Healthy Habits program and Brighter Bites. The 4-H Healthy Habits program has shown that when children and families learn about healthy eating, they increase their healthy eating habits and adopt other healthy behaviors like drinking more water and physical activity. Brighter Bites’ programming engages kids and families in schools across the country, increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables combined with nutrition education to prevent obesity and improve health outcomes.
Strengthening the field of practitioners
In March of 2020, Walmart Foundation launched the Healthy Food Community of Practice (HFCOP) as a space for connection, learning, resource sharing and action for more than 35 organizations who focus on improving healthier food access and consumption with a focus on people who face systemic barriers. Funded by the Walmart Foundation, the Community is facilitated by Share Our Strength through its subsidiary Community Wealth Partners.
The HFCOP is working to understand why one in four children—disproportionately Black and Brown—face hunger in the U.S., and to help transform food systems to center on justice. Read more about the work of HFCOP.
Walmart is committed to providing our customers and members with access to safer, compliant and more affordable merchandise, while pursuing initiatives to promote safer use and formulation of products across the industry.
Product safety policies & standards: We set high expectations for product safety in our Code of Conduct and our Global Product Safety Policy, which was updated in 2021, as well as in our Standards for Suppliers. Walmart associates in store operations, distribution and fulfillment centers, and merchandising help Walmart source safer products and respond to identified safety issues. We require associates to follow particular role-specific requirements relevant to product safety. We also require suppliers to take steps to ensure the products they provide to us are safe, meet all quality and technical requirements, and initiate voluntary and mandatory product recalls where appropriate (see below).
Holding our suppliers to high product safety standards: Walmart maintains a risk-based Global Product Safety Compliance Program to assist Walmart associates in complying with local product safety laws and requirements and company policies. Walmart’s Product Safety Compliance team comprises experienced product safety professionals who oversee our product safety program.
In the U.S., for example, we expect our general merchandise (GM) suppliers to send their items to third-party global testing laboratories so the items can be independently tested for compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and standards. We require GM products to undergo this testing before we sell them, and annually thereafter.
When an item is deemed non-compliant, we instruct the supplier to correct the issue, remove the item from sale and prohibit purchase in stores and online. We voluntarily provide the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)—the principal federal regulatory agency overseeing the safety of consumer products—with product incident data on a regular basis so that they can take additional actions to keep consumers safe.
Educating the public about proper use of products: In 2020, we partnered with U.S. government agencies and an industry trade association to develop creative education campaigns designed to keep our customers safer:
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Where’s Baby?” campaign to prevent hot car heatstroke deaths
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “The Right Seat” campaign to promote proper car seat selection
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s “Pool Safely” campaign to prevent child drownings
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s “Portable Generator” campaign to prevent portable-generator-related carbon monoxide deaths
- The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association’s “Baby Safety Month” campaign to promote the safe use and selection of juvenile products
Maintaining trust in pricing & product quality during the pandemic: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. market was flooded with offers to sell personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks. Our compliance program enabled us to help our merchant partners quickly source hundreds of millions of safer and compliant masks and other PPE for our customers.
We also worked to protect our customers from price-gouging on high-demand items such as masks, hand sanitizer and other forms of PPE throughout the pandemic. Walmart moved quickly to institute pricing guardrails and a social media monitoring tool to surface and address potential incidents of price-gouging.
Consumer protection and responsible marketing
Walmart is committed to complying with all applicable consumer protection laws and regulations where we do business. Providing clear and accurate information helps our customers decide where to shop and what to buy. In addition to our Code of Conduct, we have a Global Consumer Protection Policy that requires relevant associates to provide clear and accurate information to our customers so they can make the most informed buying decisions. It also requires associates responsible for marketing to follow requirements for making product claims, to provide clear and transparent disclosures, and to partner with associates in merchandising to provide adequate stock levels for advertised items.
These principles have been particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic. With certain products in high demand, Walmart maintained everyday low-price discipline and we issued guidance setting limits on customer purchases for these items and other categories including paper products, milk, eggs, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food to help sustain inventory availability for as many community members as possible.
Opioids: At Walmart, we see and feel the impact of the opioid crisis in the communities we serve. Our mission is to help people “live better,” and this means helping to fight the opioid crisis facing our country. As part of our commitment, in early 2017, we established the Walmart Opioid Stewardship Initiative to identify concrete, high-impact actions to help fight the opioid epidemic. The Initiative focuses on supporting solutions in three core areas:
- Stewardship: Adopting policies and practices to help safeguard our patients
- Education: Supporting education programs for our patients, pharmacists, associates and communities
- Advocacy: Supporting legislation and public policy solutions aimed at reducing opioid misuse and dependence
We are proud of our pharmacists who help patients understand the risks of opioid prescriptions, and our pharmacists have refused to fill hundreds of thousands of opioid prescriptions they thought could be problematic. On top of that, Walmart has blocked thousands of questionable doctors from having their opioid prescriptions filled by any of our pharmacists, as part of our good-faith efforts to help address the opioid crisis and to satisfy the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). As a result, many health regulators, medical groups, doctors and patients say that Walmart is going too far in refusing to fill opioid prescriptions—and even say we are improperly interfering in the doctor-patient relationship, which is a big reason a new lawsuit recently brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and DEA against Walmart is so misguided and misleading. There are a lot of problems with the lawsuit — as we will explain in court, it is wrong on the law and is riddled with factual inaccuracies, mischaracterizations and cherry-picked documents taken out of context. To learn more, please visit Walmart’s blog post, A Misguided Justice Department Lawsuit Forces Pharmacists Between Patients and their Doctors.
Our efforts together with those of governments at the state and federal levels and others in the private sector are beginning to yield results. But more work needs to be done. We will continue working with individuals and organizations in our communities to protect patients and families from the risks of prescription opioid misuse and abuse.
For more information on how Walmart is working to combat the opioid crisis, please see our Protecting Communities web page.
Sustainable chemistry: Walmart’s Sustainable Chemistry Commitment encourages our suppliers to incorporate sustainable chemistry principles into the development of their products. This means reducing or eliminating the generation and use of chemicals of concern. We ask suppliers to accelerate product reformulation, improve transparency into ingredients and formulations, and certify products using credible accreditations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice program, EWG Verified and Cradle to Cradle (silver level or above). We are the only retailer that agreed to publicly disclose our answers to the 19 questions in the Chemical Footprint Survey and our overall final score in the 2020 survey Chemical Footprint Project. For the second year, Walmart was recognized as a CFP 2020 Disclosure Leader.
Walmart U.S. stores and Sam's Club U.S. have a goal to reduce our footprint of priority chemicals in formulated consumables by 10% by 2022, compared to our 2017 baseline of 215.9 million pounds.195 As the first U.S. retailer to announce a time-bound chemical reduction goal, we are continually learning and refining our process, assumptions and approach. For 2019, based on supplier reports collected through UL WERCSmart, our priority chemical footprint for in-scope products sold in Walmart U.S. stores and Sam’s Clubs U.S. decreased by 5% since 2017, as measured by weight in pounds. The weight of priority chemicals as a proportion of total product formulation weight for items sold in Walmart U.S. stores and Sam’s Club U.S. declined by 12 basis points from baseline year.
We reference regulatory and authoritative lists to determine priority chemicals in our products.196 In 2019, we had more than 145,000 formulated consumable products in-scope within beauty, personal care, baby, pet and household cleaning products sold by Walmart U.S. stores and Sam’s Clubs in the U.S.
To progress toward our chemical reduction goal, we work with industry experts and our suppliers to share best practices and encourage innovation. In FY2021, we continued our collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund. We also engaged our suppliers to learn more about the implementation of sustainable chemistry in the products they sell at Walmart.
To track and disclose progress toward our chemical reduction goal, Walmart asks suppliers to share their formulations for each in‐scope Universal Product Code (UPC) with WERCSmart system, which is managed by safety certification organization UL. UL WERCSmart aggregates the information and calculates Walmart’s chemical footprint. In 2019, suppliers provided product formulations to UL WERCSmart for 96% of in‐scope UPCs194. Approximately 41% of total in‐scope UPCs contained priority chemicals.
Read more about our current methodology in the Sustainable Chemistry Implementation Guide.
Weight change of in-scope priority chemicals in our consumable chemical footprint197
Chemical management: Walmart U.S. is working with suppliers to help support the reduction of priority chemical discharge in the textile manufacturing process. In FY2021, Walmart hosted a virtual Mill Sustainability Workshop Series for suppliers and textile mill representatives across four regions – China, Vietnam, India, and the Americas. The webinars were facilitated by 3rd party subject matter experts to deliver training on chemical management best practices and Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg FEM) adoption, reaching nearly 300 participants in total. Walmart U.S. also piloted a third-party platform and chemical management tool in FY2021 to monitor chemical inventories in 16 wet processing facilities, and learnings from the pilot will inform future approach for supplier facility engagement on chemical management.
Walmart encourages suppliers to lead on sustainable chemistry in apparel, footwear and soft home textile products and leverage third party certifications that assess and recognize leadership in line with the principles of safer chemistry, such as STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® and MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX®.
- Food and product safety programs are dependent on the maturity, rigor, and efficacy of third-party standards and initiatives, and there are limits to the efficacy of tools used to monitor compliance with expectations.
- The success of food and product safety programs is dependent on suppliers’ capacity and willingness to meet high standards, as well as their performance.
- Food safety risks are often upstream and beyond the reach of traditional retailer oversight and monitoring tools. Lack of reliable data on source/origin of certain commodities and product ingredients and the way they are produced—as well as the blending and commoditization of product inputs and ingredients—complicates food safety. The use of technology improving transparency and traceability (e.g., blockchain) can help, but adoption takes time and further innovation is necessary to meet these challenges.
- The breadth of Walmart's global product offerings and dispersed geographical reach of supply chains can present challenges for supplier engagement and risk identification and mitigation.
- Walmart’s ability to scale healthier food options is dependent on customer preferences and demand (which can depend on the cost and convenience of such options) and the availability and cost of preferred products, ingredients, commodities, and inputs. Growth in and/or changes in our business can challenge our ability to meet customer demands consistent with our aspiration of healthier food for all.
- Pandemics, weather-related events, and political/social unrest can create supply/demand volatility and interrupt supply chains. Moreover, economic shifts can create sudden and volatile food access issues and increase demand for food donations.