Walmart is a huge buyer of case-ready beef to sell in its 4,700 U.S. stores. In recent years the retail giant has focused on improving the quality of its beef offerings by adding Angus cuts from farmers who use sustainable practices.
Walmart now plans to break ground later this year on its first owned and operated case-ready (packaging) beef facility in Olathe, Kan., which should open in 2025. Walmart says the new facility will better control the supply chain, increase its capacity to fulfill the demand for beef and create more than 600 jobs in the Olathe area.
The new case-ready beef facility will package and distribute a selection of Angus cuts from Sustainable Beef’s processing center in North Platte, Neb., which is set to open in late 2024. Walmart said the venture would serve its stores across the Midwest. Late last year, Walmart made a minority investment in Sustainable Beef to create an end-to-end supply chain for Angus beef. Walmart said it would also have representation on Sustainable Beef’s board.
Walmart has been powering up its proprietary, end-to-end Angus beef supply chain for the past several years. In June 2021, Walmart said McClaren Farms would supply beef in nearly 500 stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina.
The retailer said customers were wanting more transparency and sustainability with their meat purchases. But with these ventures, Walmart is competing directly with Tyson Foods, one its largest U.S. suppliers of meat and poultry.
“We will continue to work hand in hand with our suppliers to ensure we’re delivering high-quality products, increasing transparency, resiliency and capacity through the supply process and meeting increased demand for our customers,” said Bruce Heckman, vice president of manufacturing, private brands at Walmart.
Walmart has made similar moves to control the supply chain. The retailer opened its first U.S. food production facility in 2018 in Fort Wayne, Ind. The milk plant produces half-gallon and gallon jugs of whole, 2%, 1% and skim plain and 1% chocolate milk under its own Great Value brand sourced from 25 daily farms in Indiana and Michigan. Walmart is shipping milk from the facility to around 500 of its stores in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and northern Kentucky.