Photos and video by Ashley Nickle

NEW ORLEANS — Walmart recently announced its Produce 2.0 initiative, and I encountered a department with some of the changes this week on a work trip to Louisiana.

I walked into the store around 8:30 p.m., outside the prime shopping window, but I immediately noticed a large island display of apples, oranges and pomegranates and a couple of nice full endcap displays further into the department. My impression was that the overall first look was much nicer than I typically expected from Walmart.

Front-facing displays of berries and grapes also caught my eye. The coolers were sufficiently stocked though not particularly neat, but the displays also had seasonal decorations perched on top of them. There were holiday elements throughout the department — including a white-and-red tree above an island of bagged mandarins — and those made it feel a little friendlier than I remembered from previous visits.

The fresh-cut sections also looked fairly promising, if not meticulously maintained.

Heading into the aisles, the reusable plastic containers were hit or miss as far as fullness, which is less than ideal since no one wants to feel like they're selecting from the leftovers. The wet rack really needed some TLC also.

Bear in mind that, as I mentioned earlier, I visited late in the day, and there was at least one person restocking while I was there, so perhaps many of these shortcomings aren't nearly as pronounced in the main shopping hours.

All that said, my takeaway from the experience was that Walmart produce looks quite a bit better than I remember. I've written before that the retailer's changes don't need to make its stores better than all their competitors at produce; the changes just have to make people more comfortable adding some produce to their basket when they're already in the store for other items. From what I saw, Walmart is certainly moving in that direction.

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