Wal-Mart Stores Inc., is stocking its refrigerator cases with higher-quality beef in a bid to boost food sales, sending strong ripples through the U.S. beef market.

The world's largest retailer has confirmed that it is now selling USDA Choice-grade beef at all of its 3,800 U.S. locations after ramping up selections for the past three months. Wal-Mart traditionally has sold only USDA Select-grade beef, which is of a lower quality, keeping with its focus on low prices.

Because of Wal-Mart's unparalleled size -- more than half of its $260 billion in U.S. sales last year came from groceries -- its strategic shift is having a pronounced effect on the wholesale beef market.

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