Five Wisconsin-based companies will soon begin selling their products at Walmart and Sam's Clubs stores and e-commerce sites as part of Walmart Inc.'s seventh annual 'Open Call' supplier program.
More than 175 small businesses from across the country were selected out of approximately 850 applicants that virtually pitched their U.S.-made shelf-stable products to Walmart merchants last week, according to a news release.
The five Wisconsin-based companies that were selected to move forward with 'Open Call' include Central Standard Craft Distillery in Milwaukee; MYBREAD Gluten Free Bakery in Racine; Croix Valley Foods in Hudson; Minhas Craft Brewery Distillery & Winery in Monroe;and Deli, Inc. in Millston.
"The next step in the process is for those small businesses to continue to have conversations and follow-ups with their merchants about... the granular aspect of getting on the shelves," said Casey Staheli, senior manager, national media relations at Walmart.
As part of the program, companies receive coaching and guidance on being successful suppliers. Where and when their products are expected to become available varies, said Staheli.
"If it's a very, say, Wisconsin-centric product-- maybe to the culture or the taste or certain aspects of Wisconsin or surrounding states, it might land on a few shelves there," he said. "Depending on how it goes, it may expand later. There are those other products that we feel are going to be a big hit everywhere and they may get a larger opportunity."
A Walmart spokesperson provided information on the products that the five selected Wisconsin-based companies successfully pitched to buyers.
Standard Craft Distillery, which produces a line of bourbon, whiskey, gin and vodka from locally sourced ingredients, pitched its Door County Cherry Vodka and North Wisconsin Brandy.
MYBREAD Gluten Free Bakery, a 100% dedicated gluten-free and vegan wholesale bakery, pitched its Original Gluten-Free Flatbread Pita.
Croix Valley Foods, which produces barbecue sauces, marinades, BBQ dry rubs, seasonings and Bloody Mary products, pitched its line of Bloody Mary Seasonings. Two flavors of the liquid concentrates, Bold 'n Spicy Bloody Mary Seasoning and the Croix Valley Garlic 'n Dill Bloody Mary Seasoning will be available at a couple hundred stores by spring of 2021.
Longtime craft brewer Minhas Brewery & Distillery pitched its Thirsty Miner Craft Beers (IPA, Double IPA and Chocolate Stout) as well Regal Brau Light, Lager and Ice.
Deli, Inc., which manufacturers gardening and home testing products for consumers and growers, pitched its Soil Master Soil Test Kit. The product is branded under two of the company's three divisions, Mosser Lee and Soil Master.
Walmart's 'Open Call' event is part of a larger effort to "help boost job creation and U.S. manufacturing" by purchasing an additional $250 billion in U.S.-made products by 2023.
All told, this year's first-ever virtual event attracted more than more than 4,800 small businesses across 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia and Mozambique, which was a 44% increase in submissions from last year, according to a news release.
The most popular categories were food, health and wellness and personal care. Products pitched reflect consumer trends in healthy foods, natural products, ethnic cuisine, snacks and adult beverages.
"It’s truly inspiring to see the strong entrepreneurial spirit of this year’s participants," Laura Phillips, Walmart's senior vice president for global sourcing and U.S. manufacturing said in a statement. "Despite the challenges small businesses have faced this year, they’ve brought incredible energy, innovation and ingenuity to their product pitch meetings."