In this file:

 

·         Walmart’s new meatpacking plant opens today. What does it mean for the beef industry? [Jan. 2020]

It's a step the company took to reduce its reliance on the heavily consolidated beef industry. But, for some ranchers, it may represent a new monopoly of its own.

 

·         Walmart Opens Indiana Milk Plant [June 2018]

… “This new plant is a perfect example of the kinds of efficiencies Walmart seeks in our supply chain to benefit our customers,” said Tony Airoso, senior vice president of sourcing strategy for Walmart… 

 

·         Walmart's Alphabot grocery picker goes fully operational in first store

The system picks groceries and delivers them to staff for packing.

 

 

 

Walmart’s new meatpacking plant opens today. What does it mean for the beef industry?

It's a step the company took to reduce its reliance on the heavily consolidated beef industry. But, for some ranchers, it may represent a new monopoly of its own.

 

by Sam Bloch, New Food Economy

January 10th, 2020

 

Walmart, the largest retailer in the U.S., is getting into the beef business. This afternoon, the Arkansas-based company will make a notable move for a purveyor of groceries: opening a 200,000-square-foot meatpacking plant built specifically to process Black Angus beef. The facility, located in Thomasville, Georgia, is the company’s first such plant, according to the Thomasville Times-Enterprise.

 

In a press release, Walmart said it’s opening the facility to process Angus beef steaks and roasts, which it will sell in 500 stores in stores throughout the Southeast. While the grocer says that controlling its supply chain will meet customers’ demands for transparency, there may be other factors in play as well. This summer, Walmart U.S. Chief Greg Foran told CNN Business that concerns over industry consolidation were one factor that led the company to look into regaining some control over its supply.

 

In general, when grocers like Walmart sell ground beef or other cuts at the meat counter, they’re selling someone else’s finished product and slapping their brand on it. Currently, Walmart mainly buys its beef from Cargill and Tyson—two of the world’s largest commodity meat companies. According to CNN, Foran has suggested that this dynamic has helped to edge prices upward. “We all know the market dynamics of what happens when you generally operate in a duopoly,” he told analysts in June. “It’s not all that good for the customer.”

 

That could help explain why big-box retailers are starting to take back small portions of heavily consolidated supply chains. By building a 400,000-square-foot poultry processing plant in Fremont, Nebraska, Costco is rapidly becoming its own supplier of rotisserie chickens—a move it eventually expects will lower costs by 10 to 35 cents a bird. And Walmart itself opened a milk processing plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 2018.

 

Angus cattle, first bred in England for fatty, marbled meat, were brought to the United States in the 1970s. The breed is now now the country’s most popular beef. Global sales grow every year and now surpass over a billion pounds. Walmart is developing its Black Angus line with 44 Farms, which focuses on the breed. The Cameron, Texas seedstock company will source calves from ranchers who use its Angus Strong genetics—that is, bull semen—and send them to Mc6 Cattle Feeders, a Hereford, Texas company, for finishing.

 

After the cattle are fed—either in Texas or a feedyard in Nebraska, according to The Progressive Farmer—they will be slaughtered at Creekstone Farms, a Black Angus specialist in Kansas with its own line of branded beef. From there, they will be packaged and further processed at Walmart’s new Georgia facility, which is operated by a company called FPL Food. The product line will create over 450 new jobs at the Kansas and Georgia facilities, the retailer said in its press statement.

 

But how will the move affect U.S. ranchers? In general, a new packing facility coming online would be viewed as a good thing, says Jess Peterson, a Montana rancher and the executive vice president of the U.S. Cattleman’s Association. Industry consolidation can be hard on cattle ranchers, who often have few options to market their animals, and the closure of a single plant can send prices skyrocketing.

 

But this instance is more complicated. Because the plant is owned by Walmart, which is working only with select suppliers—whittling a variety of Angus cattle into a specific breed and specific supply chain—most Angus ranchers, like Peterson, are likely to be shut out. It could also mean ranchers face stiffer competition elsewhere. If Walmart increasingly relies on its own supply and starts buying less commodity beef, that’s one less customer for others to sell to.

 

But even the ranchers who are lucky enough to work with Walmart will face risks, according to Peterson.

 

“Before, they were going into the regular bunch of cattle to be bid on, and now they’re going directly, streamlined into Walmart,” he says. “You create a little more supply-demand on one area, but you run the risk for a vertical integration model, on the other.” In other words, a vertically-integrated retailer—one who controls the supply chain from ranch to shelf—wields a lot of power over the individual ranchers it contracts with.

 

The idea of vertical integration, Peterson says, “really makes our guys nervous, and rightfully so.”

 

Still, for now, Walmart is only taking ownership of…

 

more, including links

https://newfoodeconomy.org/walmart-new-angus-beef-plant-thomasville-georgia/

 

 

Walmart Opens Indiana Milk Plant

 

By: Anna-Lisa Laca, FarmJournal's Milk

June 13, 2018

 

Today, Walmart opened its first milk processing facility in Ft. Wayne Indiana.

 

The plant, which Walmart started building in 2016, is widely believed to be the reason more than 100 dairy producers, stretching from Indiana to Pennsylvania, who had been shipping to Dean Foods lost their contracts earlier this year.

 

The new plant will produce Great Value brand white and chocolate milk for nearly 500 Walmart stores in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky. Bottling began last week and the plant will be at full production later this year, Walmart officials say. Milk will be sourced from nearly 30 dairy farms in both Indiana and Michigan with these farms being an average of 140 miles from the plant.

 

“This new plant is a perfect example of the kinds of efficiencies Walmart seeks in our supply chain to benefit our customers,” said Tony Airoso, senior vice president of sourcing strategy for Walmart. “Farmers and associates in Indiana have been critical in getting us to this point. As we begin to bottle milk for our customers in the area, they will continue to be the biggest factor in our success.” 

 

According to Walmart, the company chose to build the plant in Indiana after the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) released its 2015 dairy strategy, aiming to expand the Hoosier dairy industry and capitalize on the state’s growing production capability and strong workforce...

 

more

https://www.milkbusiness.com/article/walmart-opens-indiana-milk-plant

 

 

Walmart's Alphabot grocery picker goes fully operational in first store

The system picks groceries and delivers them to staff for packing.

 

Georgina Torbet, Engadget

Jan 10, 2020

 

Walmart has been investing heavily in robots and grocery deliveries, with tests for driverless grocery deliveries and an automated grocery order selection process rolling out recently, not to mention the direct-to-fridge delivery service it has been trialing. The automated grocery selection robots have now moved beyond testing and into the real world, where they're working alongside staff in a warehouse behind the Salem superstore.

 

The Alphabot enables order picking within the warehouse using autonomous carts to pick refrigerated and frozen items as well as groceries stored at room temperature. The system locates an item, picks it and brings it to a workstation to be checked and bagged by a staff member.

 

Walmart says that the Alphabot will...

 

more

https://www.engadget.com/2020/01/10/walmart-alphabot-grocery-picker-operational/