Shanghai - Walmart and its foundation are investing $25m 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,” Walmart chief executive officer Doug McMillon said at the event in Beijing on Wednesday.
Walmart, which is overhauling its business globally to meet the challenge from ecommerce, 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 ecommerce website JD.com, strengthening its China presence after its sales were hit in 2014 by a series of food scares.
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 on Wednesday three projects including one that brings US and China academics together with local poultry producers Fujian Shengnong Food, New Hope Liuhe and Guangzhou Jiangfeng Industry to study safety in poultry supply chains.