Episode 806: Walmart's Pickle : Planet Money Walmart and Amazon are in a battle to be the store where you buy everything. But when both companies sell everything, what sets them apart? Food inventions like a bright, red pickle!

Episode 806: Walmart's Pickle

Marcie LaCerte/NPR
Walmart is innovating new foods as part of their strategy to maintain dominance over Amazon.
Marcie LaCerte/NPR

Walmart is trying to invent the food of the future to win the fight with Amazon and sell you everything.

The logic goes something like this: For decades, Walmart was the first stop for basics like eggs, toothpaste, cereal, and so on for many Americans. When customers came for the food, they walked a few aisles over and bought other things too. Walmart is the store with everything. Then came Amazon: The everything store. After a rough first try in the world of groceries, Amazon found a new way in when it bought Whole Foods. Amazon immediately started lowering prices at Whole Foods. A lot of customers switched over from Walmart.

About a year ago, Walmart started a Culinary and Innovation Center, a little-known laboratory where specialists create new kinds of food. Fruits that can only be purchased at their stores. Special tomatoes that can be shipped cross country and still taste fresh. Bright yellow watermelon and cotton candy flavored grapes. Walmart hopes these exclusive items will be the next baby carrot— a food innovation that kids beg for, and that gets parents in the store. We go behind the scenes to get a taste of the action.

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