NEW YORK — Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which is struggling to keep its produce aisles fresh, announced steps to improve the quality of its fresh fruits and vegetables.
The nation's largest grocer said Monday that it is making more changes in its operations, training and sourcing as it addresses concerns about the bananas, lettuce and other produce it sells.
Changes include delivering produce from farms to store shelves more quickly by purchasing fruits and vegetables directly from local growers. It's also conducting independent weekly checks of the produce aisles at its more than, 3,400 Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Express stores.
Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, said it also launched a produce training program for 70,000 associates, including store managers, that teaches them how to better handle fruits and vegetables.
"We're listening to our customers and delivering on our promise to offer great produce at the most affordable price," said Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of the grocery business for Wal-Mart's U.S. division, which garnered 55 percent of its total sales last year in groceries, including produce.
The steps follow several commitments that Wal-Mart has made to make the food it sells healthier and more affordable since 2011. As part of that commitment, Wal-Mart reiterated Monday it's working closely with local growers and aims to double the company's sales of local grown produce by December 2015.