BENTONVILLE, ARK. – Rastelli Foods Group, a family-owned, vertically integrated, global food processing and service company, joined more than 175 companies to advance to the next stage of Walmart’s first-ever virtual Open Call event.

More than 800 small businesses from across the United States pitched their products to Walmart and Sam’s Club merchants as part of the event. Success during the next phase could mean a spot on store and club shelves for Rastelli’s product — a chuck and short rib craft burger.

Swedesboro, NJ-based Rastelli Foods currently supplies major retailers Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club, along with various hotels, restaurants, institutions and retail markets.

Walmart said more than 4,800 small businesses representing 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia and Mozambique applied for the chance to pitch a Walmart merchant, a 44% increase in submissions from 2019. The number of meetings — nearly 900 — also increased 44% due to the virtual nature of this year’s event, the company said.

The most popular categories were food, health and wellness, and personal care and products pitched reflect consumer trends in healthy foods, natural products, ethnic cuisine, snacks and adult beverages.

“No other retailer provides small businesses with as many channels and avenues to success and we’re thrilled with their response to Walmart’s first-ever virtual Open Call event,” said Laura Phillips, Walmart senior vice president for global sourcing and US manufacturing. “It’s truly inspiring to see the strong entrepreneurial spirit of this year’s participants. Despite the challenges small businesses have faced this year, they’ve brought incredible energy, innovation and ingenuity to their product pitch meetings and we are excited about what this means for our customers, our communities and our commitment to source an additional $250 billion in US manufactured products that support American jobs.”

Chef Robert Irvine, five-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin and Snoop Dogg, whose gin label Indoggo will be available in Walmart stores next spring, shared words of advice and inspiration to the participating companies.