Walmart to Offer Keyes' Wild Oats Brand

Deal with company owned by former 7-Eleven CEO promises affordable organic groceries

Walmart Wild Oats 7-Eleven Jim Keyes (CSP Daily Neews / Convenience Store Petroleum)

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's largest grocer, said it will begin carrying the Wild Oats organic food brand. Originally introduced in 1987, Wild Oats will relaunch at Walmart starting this month with a new, more affordable price point on products covering a broad variety of categories.

Wild Oats is owned through a partnership between Yucaipa Cos. LLC and Jim Keyes, the former CEO of 7-Eleven Inc. and Blockbuster Inc. Yucaipa formed Wild Oats Marketing LLC in Dec. 2011 to bring back the Wild Oats brand. Founded in 1987 in Boulder, Colo., as Wild Oats Markets, the original Wild Oats operated natural and organic foods stores and farmers markets in North America.

In Sept. 2013, Los Angeles-based Yucaipa acquired 150 Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets From Tesco PLC, after London-based Tesco's strategic review of its U.S. retail business led it to exit the United States. Yucaipa reportedly has tapped Keyes to run the small-format grocery stores.

The Wild Oats groceries brand meets customer demand for more affordable organic foods, Wal-Mart said. Wal-Mart and Wild Oats will introduce nearly 100 products as part of the line, removing the price premium associated with organic groceries. Customers will save 25% or more when comparing Wild Oats to national brand organic products, it said.

Wild Oats will feature the following lines at Walmart:

  • Wild Oats Marketplace Organic, which adheres to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines for organic certification and includes everything from canned vegetables (15 oz.) at $.88 to a full range of spices such as paprika, curry powder and ground cinnamon (2 oz.) starting at $2.48. Organic items represent nearly 90% of the Wild Oats offering.
  • Wild Oats Marketplace, which includes products with simple and real ingredients such as ready-to-prepare skillet meals (5.8 oz.) at $1.50.
  • Wild Oats Marketplace Originals, offering new and uniquely formulated items, will be available later this year.

"We know our customers are interested in purchasing organic products and, traditionally, those customers have had to pay more," said Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of grocery at Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S. "We are changing that and creating a new price position for organic groceries that increases access. This is part of our ongoing effort to use our scale to deliver quality, affordable groceries to our customers."

"By partnering with Walmart, Wild Oats is starting a movement that makes it easier than ever for customers to access affordable organic and natural products," said Tom Casey, CEO of Wild Oats. "Our availability at Walmart will allow us to finally pass along scalable savings directly to consumers. We are reinvigorating our brand by bringing great-tasting Wild Oats products to more customers than ever before."

With more than 4,000 stores across the nation selling groceries, Walmart offers a broad assortment of fresh produce, dairy, meat and packaged foods. In addition to growing its organic product offering through Wild Oats, the retailer is expanding its assortment in categories including yogurt, produce, deli and bakery.