Walmart adds to private labels with Italy’s Coop

The retailer is looking to expand its premium food selection by bringing the Fior Fiore brand to shelves at an "everyday low price."

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Walmart is looking to make premium food affordable through a retail partnership with Italian company Coop, bringing private label food brand Fior Fiore products to shelf.

Fior Fiore is a 100% Italian owned-and-craft product line that includes pasta, pasta sauces, pesto, peeled tomatoes, bruschetta and pates.

Ivo Petroff, Walmart’s senior category manager of grocery, tells strategy that while Fior Fiore is a premium private label in Italy, it’s an emerging, exclusive brand in Canada, and plans to retain some of that premium positioning, albeit at a price point that fits with the retailer’s “everyday low prices” mantra.

Petroff says that the Coop partnership is a “great alignment on values and corporate culture,” citing the cooperative’s influential status in Italy, and how it belongs to associates and partners. He says that Walmart as a brand is always aiming to meet the expectations of busy families. With this product, Petroff says, it is also looking to broaden the traditional customer, by welcoming in those looking for premium products.

According to Petroff, Walmart’s primary focus promoting the product launch is digital and social media, including a dedicated website and shoppable links. The site also acts as a recipe hub, linked to by QR codes on product packaging. Coop has also hired a community manager based in Toronto who is managing the social media presence in Canada. In the months ahead, Petroff says, Walmart will look to develop video content telling the various stories of small (often family) manufacturers behind the products.

The new products, which includes a range of more than 40 SKUs, are in stores now, with 27 items available online through its grocery site. Walmart had intended to bring specialty oils and vinegar to store shelves in May, but the retailer did not respond by press time for clarification on if those developments or other elements of its supply chain had been affected by the COVID-19, given that Coop products are produced in Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus.

Amidst ongoing COVID-19 concerns, Walmart Canada also announced its first PenguinPickUp location in Montreal in mid-March to “deliver on the changing needs of our customers with a more flexible and convenient shopping experience, wherever they live,” according to Alexis Lanternier, executive vice president, ecommerce. The retailer is also in midst of hiring 10,000 new staff in Canada, responding to increased workloads associated with staying open during the pandemic.