Are you curious about the quality of beef sold at Walmart?
For years, the retail giant has been known for its focus on low prices, which traditionally meant selling only select-grade beef. However, recent changes have been made to offer customers more options.
In this article, we’ll explore the grades of beef sold at Walmart and what you can expect in terms of quality. From traditional options to premium selections, let’s take a closer look at what’s on offer at Walmart’s 3,800 U.S. locations.
What Grade Of Beef Does Walmart Sell?
Walmart has traditionally sold only select-grade beef, which is considered to be of a lower quality than other grades. However, the retail giant has recently made changes to its offerings, including the introduction of choice-grade beef at all of its U.S. locations.
It’s important to note that all of the meat sold at Walmart is what is known as “case-ready,” meaning it is prepared and packaged at a meat packing plant rather than by an in-store butcher department. While case-ready meat may have a longer shelf life than meat prepared onsite, it can also be treated with carbon dioxide and saline solution, which can affect the taste and texture of the meat.
In addition to its traditional offerings, Walmart has also launched a premium line of Angus beef under the McClaren Farms label at nearly 500 stores in the Southeast. This line includes specialty cuts such as filet mignon, T-bone, porterhouse, ribeye, short ribs, and chuck roast, among other beef selections. All of these products are U.S. rancher-raised with no hormones added.
The Different Grades Of Beef
There are eight different grades of beef recognized by the USDA, ranging from the highest quality to the lowest. These grades are based on two main criteria: the degree of marbling or intramuscular fat in the beef, and the maturity or estimated age of the animal at slaughter. The first three grades – Prime, Choice, and Select – are the most commonly recognized by consumers and are considered food-grade labels by USDA.
Prime beef is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle with abundant marbling and is generally sold in restaurants and hotels. Choice beef is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Select beef is very uniform in quality and normally leaner than higher grades. It is fairly tender, but may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades due to less marbling.
Standard and Commercial grades of beef are frequently sold as ungraded or as store-brand meat. Utility, Cutter, and Canner grades of beef are seldom, if ever, sold at retail but are used instead to make ground beef and processed products such as canned soup or frozen meals.
While Walmart traditionally sold only select-grade beef, they have recently introduced choice-grade beef at all their U.S. locations. Additionally, they have launched a premium line of Angus beef under the McClaren Farms label at nearly 500 stores in the Southeast, which includes specialty cuts such as filet mignon, T-bone, porterhouse, ribeye, short ribs, and chuck roast. It is important to note that all of the meat sold at Walmart is case-ready, which may affect the taste and texture of the meat due to treatments with carbon dioxide and saline solution.
Walmart’s Traditional Selections
Walmart has historically sold select-grade beef, which is considered to be of a lower quality than other grades. Select-grade beef has less internal marbling and fat, which can make the meat tougher and less flavorful. However, Walmart’s focus on low prices has made select-grade beef a staple in its meat offerings.
While select-grade beef may not be as tender or flavorful as other grades, it can still be a good option for budget-conscious shoppers. It can also be a good choice for recipes that call for longer cooking times or marinades to help tenderize the meat.
It’s important to note that Walmart’s decision to introduce choice-grade beef to its stores does not mean that select-grade beef will no longer be available. Rather, it gives customers the option to choose between different grades of beef depending on their preferences and budget.
Walmart’s Premium Selections
Walmart’s premium selections of beef are a recent addition to their meat offerings. The retail giant has introduced choice-grade beef at all of its U.S. locations, which is a higher quality grade than the select-grade beef it traditionally sold. Walmart’s choice-grade beef selection includes popular cuts such as T-bone, NY Strip, Filet, Ribeye, and Top Sirloin.
To ensure the quality of their beef, Walmart selects only the best USDA Choice cuts and tender-ages them to perfection. The steaks also undergo rigorous USDA inspections for quality and safety. In fact, only 1 in 5 steaks are good enough to be called Walmart Choice Premium Beef.
In addition to their choice-grade beef, Walmart has launched a premium line of Angus beef under the McClaren Farms label at nearly 500 stores in the Southeast. This line includes specialty cuts such as filet mignon, T-bone, porterhouse, ribeye, short ribs, and chuck roast, among other beef selections. All of these products are U.S. rancher-raised with no hormones added.
Walmart’s premium selections offer customers a wide assortment of top quality beef at a great price. The retailer encourages customers to try their new USDA Choice steaks even if they haven’t considered Walmart for their steaks in the past. Walmart believes in their new steak so much that they offer a full refund if a customer is not pleased with their purchase.
How To Choose The Best Beef At Walmart
When shopping for beef at Walmart, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you are getting the best quality possible. First and foremost, look for the USDA grade on the packaging. Walmart now offers choice-grade beef, which is a step up from the previously offered select-grade beef. Choice-grade beef has more marbling, or intramuscular fat, which leads to a more tender and flavorful cut of meat.
Next, pay attention to the color and texture of the meat. Look for bright red meat with a firm texture. Avoid meat that is discolored or has a slimy texture, as this could be a sign of spoilage.
If you are looking for a specific cut of beef, such as filet mignon or ribeye, check out Walmart’s premium line of Angus beef under the McClaren Farms label. These cuts are specially selected and have no added hormones. Keep in mind that these premium cuts may be more expensive than the regular offerings.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask the meat department staff for assistance. They can help you select the best cut of beef for your needs and may be able to provide cooking tips and suggestions.
The Future Of Beef At Walmart
Walmart’s recent investment in Sustainable Beef LLC is the latest step in the retailer’s commitment to increasing access to high-quality beef at an affordable price for its customers, while also boosting capacity for the beef industry and ensuring long-term economic viability for cattle ranchers. This partnership will help supplement the current beef industry and provide additional opportunities for ranchers to increase their business.
Sustainable Beef LLC’s new beef processing facility, which is expected to break ground next month and open by late 2024, will create more than 800 new jobs. Walmart’s equity investment in the company will help them open this facility, which will source top-quality angus beef for Walmart’s customers. Walmart will also have representation on Sustainable Beef’s board, giving them greater visibility into the beef supply chain.
Sustainable Beef LLC will work with cattle feeders and ranchers to understand critical elements of the supply chain cycle, such as grain sourcing and grazing management. Animal care will follow the Five Freedoms, and there will be a consistent approach to antibiotic use and reporting across herds in line with Walmart’s Position on Antibiotics in Animals. All of these components will help Sustainable Beef LLC to improve and refine the beef supply chain to provide quality beef for Walmart’s customers.
Walmart’s investment in Sustainable Beef LLC is part of a broader initiative that began in 2019 when the retailer began investing in its Angus beef supply chain. By mid-2021, Walmart’s end-to-end supply chain allowed it to launch its own private-label sustainable-beef brand called McClaren Farms, which includes specialty cuts such as filet mignon, T-bone, porterhouse, ribeye, short ribs, and chuck roast.
This investment in Sustainable Beef LLC is the next step toward greater self-sufficiency in a product category that’s increasingly in demand. With four companies controlling more than 80% of the country’s beef processing capacity, Walmart can’t afford to be beholden to their leverage. By investing in its own supply chain and partnering with rancher-owned companies like Sustainable Beef LLC, Walmart is taking control of its own destiny when it comes to providing high-quality beef at an affordable price for its customers.