Walmart entered the beef industry in 2019 in order to offer responsibly raised, “steakhouse quality” meats under its own supply chain operations. Now the retailer is taking the next step by bringing that supply under a new house brand.
Walmart’s McClaren Farms line is produced in partnership with Bob McClaren of Prime Pursuits, which is linked to Texas beef producer 44 Farms. In the announcement from 2019, Walmart said it’s also working with Texas-based Mc6 Cattle Feeders, Kansas-based Creekstone Farms and Georgia-based FPL Food.
In January 2020, Walmart said it opened its first facility to support its beef supply chain with a 201,000-square-foot production house in Georgia operated by FPL Food.
Walmart’s announcement comes at the beginning of grilling season, when millions of consumers will be flocking to meat departments in search of prime cuts. It also comes the same week beef processor JBS was hit by a cyber attack that briefly shut down several of its U.S. facilities.
Several grocers have brought production in-house to boost supply chain efficiencies. Kroger, Walmart and Albertsons own their own dairy production facilities, while Costco controls poultry production for its popular $5 rotisserie chicken line.
Consumer preference for private label fresh proteins has steadily increased in recent years. According to the latest Power of Meat report from the Food Industry Association, 24% of consumers say they prefer private brand fresh meat and poultry compared to 28% who prefer name brands.
Millennials, Gen X and baby boomers preferred name-brand fresh meat and poultry over private label, according to the report, while Gen Z shoppers were the outlier, with 39% saying they prefer private label over name brands, indicating a selling opportunity for Walmart and other retailers.