Wal-Mart's Open Call a windfall for many food companies

by Joel Crews
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BENTONVILLE, Ark. – On June 28, 2017, hundreds of hopeful entrepreneurs crowded into the corporate office of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., as the retail giant held  its US Manufacturing Open Call. This was the fourth annual event when the company literally opens its doors to see and hear sales pitches from US-based companies endeavoring to have their products listed for sale on Walmart.com. Many of the attendees, which included food companies, benefitted from networking and making contact with Wal-Mart officials, while a handful of them were selected on the spot.

We’re excited to have you here,” Doug McMillon, Wal-Mart’s president and CEO said in his welcoming remarks to the 500-plus attendees. “I just want to buy items all day. I would love to just walk up and down the hallway and say ‘Yes,’” he said.  McMillon added that the event is focused on products manufactured in the US and that the company is supporting policy-making that results in a level playing field for these companies. The retailer plans to announce policy recommendations in support of US manufacturers. “We believe that we should be one of the voices at the table and we want to help renew US manufacturing and drive the creation of manufacturing jobs across the United States,” he said.

According to Cindi Marsiglio, Wal-Mart’s vice president of US manufacturing, about 100 companies were offered deals at the event and dozens more will have the opportunity to negotiate with buyers to sell their products online and in stores. “Today has been a fantastic show of innovation, and we are proud to extend an offer and digital shelf space on Walmart.com to today’s participants,” she said.

Among the food companies receiving deals at this year’s event were: Haven Sales & Marketing for its Carson’s Fully Cooked Ribs and its Gourmet Orange Chili Soy Sauce; O’Dang Hummus LLC, for various flavors of its hummus; Iya Foods, for its One Pot Simmer Sauce; and T&LT Tamales, LLC for its Tony’s Turkey Tamales. 

“We are very happy and excited to be part of the Wal-Mart family,” said Reginald Mosley, owner of Mississippi-based T&LT Tamales. “Five years ago, my mom read the book about Sam Walton and this is a dream come true.”

According to a statement, the 2017 Open Call event attracted participants from 47 states and Puerto Rico, with about half of the companies self-identifying as diverse-owned, and 25 percent identifying as woman-owned.

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