CHICAGO – Choice beef is now being offered in Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s refrigerated cases in hopes of increasing food sales, according to MarketWatch. Wal-Mart recently announced plans to sell Choice-grade beef at all 3,800 US locations after increasing selections in recent months.

Wal-Mart has routinely sold only Select-grade beef.

Since more than half of Wal-Mart’s $260 billion in 2010 US sales came from groceries, this change is having a profound impact on the wholesale beef market, MarketWatch reports. Although Choice beef has gotten more expensive, Select has become less expensive. As a result, the price difference between the two grades of meat has increased to 19 cents a lb. from 3 cents a lb. several months ago. This, in turn, is contributing to making Choice beef more expensive.

Wal-Mart’s decision to add Choice beef was in response to customer demand for more selections of cuts, the company said. Wal-Mart is still offering lower grades of meat for value-conscious consumers.

Approximately 63 percent of US meat graded for quality is classified as Choice, while 29 percent is classified as Select. The rest is either Prime or one of several lower grades.