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Walmart is growing and with it comes a growing presence in the food business. Bruce Peterson, Wal-Mart's head of beef merchandising, talks with BEEF.
Bruce Peterson's experience in the grocery business dates back to 1970 when he bagged groceries in a supermarket in his hometown of Detroit, MI. Today, as senior vice-president and general merchandise manager of perishables, Peterson directs beef purchasing and marketing operations for the grocery goliath Walmart.
Based in Wal-Mart's home offices in Bentonville, AR, Peterson oversees all meat, produce, dairy, frozen, floral, bakery and commercial bread operations for Wal-Mart Stores, its domestic Supercenters and the new Neighborhood Markets.
Peterson's ascension from bag boy to one of the world's top food merchandising strategists has been steady. He started his own produce wholesale business in 1979. Two years later, he moved to Dallas, TX, to join a supermarket chain before returning to Michigan in 1984.
In Michigan, Peterson spent several years as a produce specialist supervising stores in several states. In 1990, he served as produce director for a supermarket chain in Omaha, NE. A year later, he joined Walmart Stores as produce director of its new Supercenter Division.
Walmart ventured into the fresh meat business with the opening of its first Hypermart USA in 1987 in Garland, TX. While the firm doesn't make its food numbers public, trade publications project its market share at 12-14% of the total U.S. retail grocery business. Estimates are that Walmart's meat sales generally follows its overall food penetration.