Wal-Mart to Invest $25 Million in China Food Safety Research

  • Investment over five years on projects in science, education
  • China becoming bigger focus as U.S. retailer conducts overhaul

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and its foundation are investing $25 million over five years in food safety research in China, as the world’s largest retailer seeks to strengthen its foothold in the country more than two years after it was hit by high-profile product scandals.

The funding together with the Walmart Foundation will support projects in applied science, education and communications, according to the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer at a briefing held in Beijing, where it also launched the Walmart Food Safety Collaboration Center to bring together local and international research.

“By bringing together the best food safety thinkers from across the food ecosystem, from farmers to suppliers, retailers to policy regulators, we’ll accelerate food safety awareness and help make Chinese families safer and healthier,” Wal-Mart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said at the event in Beijing on Wednesday.

Wal-Mart, which is overhauling its business globally to meet the challenge from e-commerce, had struggled over the years to adapt its stores to meet Chinese consumers’ tastes and compete with local online grocery providers. The retailer earlier this month boosted its stake in China’s second-largest e-commerce website JD.com Inc., strengthening its China presence after its sales were hit in 2014 by a series of food incidents.

The new center will facilitate research in areas such as the root causes of food-borne illnesses, and developing solutions for China’s food supply chain. It also announced Wednesday three projects including one that brings U.S. and China academics together with local poultry producers Fujian Shengnong Food Co., New Hope Liuhe Co. and Guangzhou Jiangfeng Industry Co. to study safety in poultry supply chains.

— With assistance by Rachel Chang

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