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Thursday, July 6, 2017

As the competition for grocery shoppers continues, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has upgraded its beef to certified Angus throughout its U.S. and Canadian stores.

For the past year, Walmart has worked with meat giants including Tyson Foods Inc. and Cargill Inc. to secure a supply of Angus steaks and roasts at no additional cost to consumers, said Scott Neal, Walmart’s senior vice-president of meat, seafood and quality control. The higher-quality cuts have been available in all of Walmart’s 4,700 U.S. stores since March, but the retailer hasn’t announced or advertised the shift yet, according to a Bloomberg report.

Last month, the Financial Post reported that Walmart Canada upgraded its meat to AAA Canadian Angus beef from lower-grade AA beef without raising its beef prices.

The move is part of Walmart’s response to rapidly intensifying competition: German discounters Aldi and Lidl are expanding aggressively and Amazon.com Inc.’s purchase of Whole Foods Markets Inc. threatens to upend the industry, the Bloomberg report says. Walmart also wants to entice shoppers by offering curbside pickup of online grocery orders and improving the quality of fresh foods like produce and meat that are a key draw for customers.

“All purveyors of food are being forced to step up their game,” said Bill Lapp, president of consulting firm Advanced Economic Solutions. “There is such disruption in the grocery store sector that you have to do something.”

 “Beef is an absolute opportunity for us in terms of where we can grow,” Walmart’s Neal said in a phone interview with Bloomberg. “Our market share is not where we want it to be relative to the rest of the store.”

Walmart is calling its product “Verified Angus” since “Certified Angus Beef” is a brand name owned by a cattle rancher cooperative. Neal says Walmart’s Angus product adheres to similar quality standards on measures including marbling, flavour and consistency.

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