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Walmart Introduces a New Store Brand for ‘Quality Food’

When prices for grocery staples surged in 2021 and 2022, some Americans who had not regularly shopped at Walmart increasingly turned to the retailer, which is known for its affordable prices. Now, the company is trying to keep those new customers and attract others with a new selection of plant-based, gluten-free and deluxe culinary fare.

On Tuesday, the retailer unveiled a new store brand that it said would make “quality food accessible.” Executives described the brand, Better Goods, as its largest foray into the private-label food business in 20 years.

Better Goods items will include oat-milk frozen desserts, plant-based macaroni and cheese, and frozen appetizers like chicken curry empanadas and Brie Phyllo Blossoms. More than 70 percent of the products will cost less than $5, the retailer said.

“All of our research tells us that the customer expects these types of goods,” said Scott Morris, a senior vice president of private food and consumables brands at Walmart. “They expect to have these elevated ingredients and offerings that we provide, and they are also looking for those healthier options.”

The retailer says it is seeing growth in its store brands across all demographics, particularly shoppers from Generation Z, a group that includes people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Analysts are eager to find out if, as inflation eases, the retailer can retain higher-income individuals who started shopping at Walmart in the last few years. The company is taking a number of steps to make itself more attractive to customers. Walmart has said it plans to open new stores and to remodel existing ones. It has also changed signs, displays and other visual merchandising in ways that analysts say should make stores more appealing to affluent shoppers.

While Walmart executives said they weren’t marketing Better Goods specifically to higher-income consumers, they acknowledged that the assortment might appeal to those shoppers.

“We didn’t necessarily target a particular demographic,” Mr. Morris said in a call with reporters. “But we also know that it may appeal to certain demographics in a certain way. So we look at this as an opportunity for all customers to become even more loyal with Walmart by giving them new choices, new inspiration and new product at our shelves and on the digital experience.”

Walmart has other store brands, some of which have existed for many years. Mr. Morris said the company had 14 billion-dollar brands, eight of them in food aisles. Its Great Value brand, which was introduced more than 30 years ago, covers many food items. The company said that some Better Goods products would be similar to Great Value items but that it was not worried the brands would compete with each other.

We don’t look at it as being anything that would cannibalize our core Great Value,” Mr. Morris said. “In fact, we look at it as very much being incremental.”

Some of the new private-label food products are already being sold in Walmart stores and online, and most will hit the market by the end of the year, the company said.

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