Women-owned Food or Beverage Business Targeting Moms? Think Walmart.

Look to Wal-Mart If You’re Looking To Help Lots of Women and Moms With Your Food

Kids checking out at Walmart
Walmart moves the volume. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

In March 2015, Walmart committed to source $20 billion from women-owned businesses for its U.S. business. They plan to double their sourcing of products from women internationally by 2016.

This commitment underlies Walmart's Global Women's Economic Empowerment Initiative, which, Walmart says, they created with an intention of providing "more training, market access and career opportunities to nearly 1 million women, many on farms and factories, ultimately allowing them access to the economic opportunity they deserve."

Women Shoppers Want Foods Made By Women-Owned Businesses

According to Walmart spokesperson Tricia Moriarty, the company conducted internal research that found women consumers will go out of their way to purchase a product that’s made by a woman-owned business.

This past March, Walmart promoted women-owned business with special in-store placement. They also created a marketplace on Walmart.com where shoppers can quickly find products from women-owned businesses.

What's Good For Food Entrepreneurs is Good For Walmart

There’s an economic incentive behind the feel-good aspect of these initiatives: Walmart says that women-owned businesses contribute more than $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy and women are responsible for more than 80 percent of consumer decisions made globally.

By featuring products from women-owned businesses in the superstores and smaller Neighborhood Markets convenience stores (formerly Wal-Mart Express), Walmart is driving sales growth and increasing customer knowledge about women-run business as well as loyalty to Walmart.

Next Steps:

There's a strong business case for why food startups should plan to sell at Wal-Mart stores — especially women-owned businesses making natural / organic products that target women seeking convenience.

Walmart has roughly 1600 organic grocery items spanning produce, dairy, and packaged goods as a mix of private label and national brands, according to Walmart spokesperson Molly Blakeman.

"We have a market guideline in produce to offer 50 organic produce items.

We've made it easy for customers to find them with bright purple signage. In 2,300 stores the organic section stands on its own and customers are directed to it,” Blakeman says.

While Walmart has been struggling with cheap online food prices and consumer trends toward favoring smaller convenience stores over superstores, you can't deny the significance of reaching Walmart’s audience. As of April 2015, Walmart operates more than 11,000 retail units under 71 banners in 27 countries...employing 2.2 million associates around the world — 1.3 million in the U.S. alone.

Consider those numbers with the fact that the majority of Walmart customers are women; when you work your food business around a plan to sell to Walmart, you have the potential to seriously change the way adults and kids eat for the better.

Next step: Get tips for what to do before you approach a huge retailer like Walmart and learn from a woman entrepreneur selling her granola at Sam's Club has learned.

The Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) has named Wal-mart as a top company for women. WBENC is the organization behind the certified Women Owned business logo, which Walmart helped fund. After a verification process, woman owned businesses can utilize the logo as part of their branding and marketing.

Food Entrepreneurs Wanting To Sell Food At Wal-Mart Should Plan Ahead

The right, low pricepoint is important when selling at Walmart. Walmart aims to be the low price leader, and if an item isn't the lowest, they will match prices in ads from other stores.

Their internal research confirms the consumer want for an affordable organic food line.

Scale, production, and branding expectations are necessary but often complex considerations. Scaling-up from local stores to regional and national markets is exciting to food entrepreneurs looking to grow their business. This, coupled with the prospect of reaching a market with a lower price point, makes Walmart and Sams club a desirable opportunity, but it’s not without its growing pains.

Woman-owned Food Business Success Story: Upfront Foods

Gigi Twist, founder of Upfront Foods, created her grab and go half-cup portion size granola for offices, lunch boxes, snacks, and breakfasts. After proving the popularity of Upfront Foods in  natural grocery stores, she approached Sam’s Club. “I do know about food deserts, and it was my desire to get our grab and go granolas into Walmart and Sam’s Clubs for that’s where many people shop for groceries now,” says Twist.

With dual certifications as a Small Business and Women Owned Business Enterprise, Upfront Foods was selected as a Sam’s Club supplier in 2014. Twist says, “As exciting as it was to become a supplier, there were many hurdles to overcome as a small business going from local and regional to national sales…packaging redesign, production capabilities, sales and promotions and learning the EDI system.”

According to Twist, Upfront Food’s Sam’s Club buyer and his team were exceptional not only in their support, training and help getting her granolas into the Clubs, but also in their understanding that selling to Sam’s Club was a huge undertaking for a small company.

Now in 60+ clubs, Upfront Foods represents the type of women-owned businesses that Walmart and Sam’s Club shoppers can expect to see increasingly as Walmart works toward its goal to spend $20 billion on women businesses.