Walmart will reformulate key product categories of its Great Value private brand and collaborate with suppliers to reformulate national brands within the same categories by 2015. The effort is designed to help reduce the consumption of sodium, sugar and trans fats, which are major contributors to the epidemic of obesity and chronic diseases in America today, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. The reformulation initiative includes three components:

• Reduce sodium by 25 percent in a broad category of grocery items, including grain products, luncheon meats, salad dressings and frozen entrees;

• Reduce added sugars by 10 percent in dairy items, sauces and fruit drinks; and

• Remove all remaining industrially produced trans fats (partially hydrogenated fats and oils) in all packaged food products.

As its suppliers make choices on reformulating their products beyond the Walmart supply chain, the company expects millions of Americans to benefit whether they shop at Walmart or not.

"Our customers tell us they want a variety of food choices and need help feeding their families healthier foods. At Walmart, we are committed to doing both," said Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart. "We support consumer choice so this is not about telling people what they should eat. Our customers understand that products like cookies and ice cream are meant to be an indulgent treat. This effort is aimed at eliminating sodium, sugar and trans fat in products where they are not really needed."

"I applaud Walmart for moving the food industry in a healthier direction," said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Walmart's action should virtually eliminate artificial trans fat and significantly reduce salt in packaged foods and, most importantly, prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks and strokes each year."

Walmart's everyday low price business model will help make healthier food more affordable. The company will take a number of steps to provide customers even more savings on fresh produce through a variety of sourcing, pricing, and transportation and logistics initiatives that will drive efficiencies throughout the supply chain and further reduce unnecessary costs. For example, one initiative will establish more direct relationships with farmers, which typically result in additional income for farmers and lower and more consistent prices for customers.

"If we are successful in our efforts to lower prices, we believe we can save Americans who shop at Walmart approximately $1 billion per year on fresh fruit and vegetables," Thomas said.