Walmart to speed up distribution of perishable items through five new warehouses

(Reuters) – Walmart on Wednesday said it will build five new warehouses with a high tech spin in the United States aiming to bolster and speed up the distribution of perishable products to its 4,600 stores. The distrubition centers (DC) equipped with automation technology will handle temperature-sensitive products like milk, meat and vegetables and fruits that can spoil quickly, unlike ambient DCs which are designed for items that need to be kept in a dry environment at room temperature.

The new centers will be located in Wellford, South Carolina, Belvidere, Illinois, and Pilesgrove, New Jersey, the company said, in addition to one in Shafter, California – which has been operational since 2021 – and a still-in-development facility in Lancaster, Texas.

Collectively, the DCs will bring around 2,000 new jobs, Walmart said in a blog post.

Walmart said the automation technology deployed at these new DCs could store double the number of cases, and process more than twice the volume of a traditional DCs for perishable goods, more than doubling the number of cases processed per hour.

Walmart has been investing in technology that enhances quick delivery and pickup services for groceries. The company also uses its stores to fulfill online orders.

By the end of its fiscal year 2026, it expects about 65% of its stores to be serviced by automation.

The largest grocery retailer in the U.S. also said that it would add over 500,000 square feet of automation per site at four existing DCs to increase their capacity, and retrofit its facility in Haven, Florida with the technology.

Walmart is the country’s largest grocer generating annual sales of nearly $650 billion with groceries accounting for 60% of it.

(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in New York and Juveria Tabassum in Bengaluru; Editing by Vijay Kishore)