Walmart Hosts Virtual Open Call for U.S.-Manufactured Products

by Mike Hunter

Walmart’s seventh annual Open Call event, ahead of us on as we go to press, will see approximately 850 small and medium-sized businesses pitch Walmart merchants on October 1. Fourteen of these are Arizona-based businesses, and three of them share their stories in the online version of this article on

This year, more than 4,800 businesses representing 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia and Mozambique applied for the chance to pitch a Walmart merchant, a 44% increase in submissions from last year.

Participants in this year’s first-ever virtual Open Call event could secure deals that range from a handful of local stores to supplying hundreds of stores and Sam’s Clubs as well as and Walmart Marketplace. In addition to the pitch meetings, the one-day program includes a series of breakout sessions designed to inform, empower and encourage business owners of all sizes. Many of the sessions will be open to the general public as the virtual nature of this year’s event makes the program accessible to more businesses and convenient for them to participate regardless of location.

Walmart’s Open Call is one way in which the company continues to invest in the commitment it announced in January 2013 to help boost job creation and U.S. manufacturing through buying an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs by 2023.

“During this year of unprecedented challenges for U.S. businesses, Walmart remains committed to sourcing products made, grown or assembled in the U.S. By Investing in products that support American jobs, we are able to bring new exciting products to our customers, support new jobs in our local communities and invest in small business across the country,” says Laura Phillips, Walmart senior vice president for Global Sourcing & US Manufacturing. “Walmart’s Annual Open Call event gives us a unique occasion to identify new suppliers who can meet our customers’ needs with unique and innovative products manufactured or produced in the U.S. For the first time, this year’s Open Call event will be virtual, enabling even broader participation from potential new suppliers. We know how important this opportunity is for many small businesses, especially this year, and we are looking forward to seeing the new product submissions and meeting potential new suppliers.”

The public is invited to wish the chosen companies and other local entrepreneurs luck on their journey to Open Call by joining the conversation on social channels using #WalmartOpenCall.

Q&A with Three of the Arizona-based Contenders

Bees4 Seas

Melissa Eastin, Owner

I started Bees4 Seas because I was concerned about the fact that eight million tons of plastic waste gets dumped into our oceans every year, with single-use plastic waste making up 50%. Plastic waste is destroying our eco systems, killing marine life, destroying the coral reefs and producing greenhouse emissions. Plastic has a huge carbon footprint.

As a mom, I was also concerned about the toxins released from plastics. Harmful chemicals leach into our food from plastic food wrap/baggies and plastic water bottles, causing a myriad of health issues.

I haven’t always disliked plastic. In fact, for years, I packed my kids’ school lunches with a fresh sandwich wrapped in a plastic baggie and an ice-cold plastic water bottle. I’d even toss in a pre-packaged snack, wrapped in plastic. My family was making a lot of waste!

I knew it was time for a change and I decided to start in the kitchen. I began my search for non-toxic, eco-friendly options and struggled to find alternatives. I realized so many of my friends and family were also on the same journey, and our mainstream stores didn’t offer what we needed. The idea for Bees4Seas evolved and we started with the mission to create an eco-friendly food wrap that would be safe for the environment and our family.

What is your product you’re pitching to Walmart?

Bees4Seas Reusable Natural Beeswax Wrap is an anti-bacterial alternative to cling wrap. It’s handcrafted from organic cotton and natural waxes, to create a breathable material that keeps food fresh for longer. It’s perfect for wrapping sandwiches, wrapping loaves of bread or wrapping herbs. Just use the warmth of your hands to mold around food and bowls and wipe clean. Our Natural Food Wrap is plastic-free and home-compostable!

Our Natural Food Wraps are handcrafted in Kentucky, with ingredients sourced from sustainable family farms in Arizona and Georgia. We’re proud to ethically source everything from the U.S.A., because sustainability starts in our communities.

How is your company able to meet scale for Walmart?

We work with an experienced manufacturing company in Kentucky that has the capability to scale as needed. We’ll add automation and employees as we grow to help meet the supply needs.

Craigador Marketing Group

Craig Kosciolek, Chief Executive Officer 

I used to go to Lotus Restaurant in Minneapolis twice a week, so I got to know the owners. The eggs rolls were the best around, so I told them, “if you make them, I’ll sell them.” At the time, I was a buyer for a grocery store called Byerlys in Minneapolis, so I got their egg rolls into Byerlys as well as other grocery stores and eventually bought the retail rights in 2001.

Having a background of more than 35 years in the grocery industry, I was able to look at ways to bring products to the marketplace. I looked at existing products and asked myself, “Wouldn’t it be better if . . . ?”

Over the years, I expanded the number of products for the retail grocery industry. I produced multiple products for grocery stores, co-ops as well as institutional use. After moving to Arizona, I identified that there was a market for several of the products I then produced, so I partnered with a local company to produce my Lotus Restaurant All Natural Sauces in 2007, right here in Phoenix.

What is your product you’re pitching to Walmart?

Five Lotus Restaurant All Natural Sauces: Sweet and Sour, Spicy Sweet and Sour, Spicy Stir Fry, Sweet Ginger, and Spicy Peanut Sauce, and The Lotus Restaurant All Natural Egg Rolls and Cream Cheese Wontons, all produced in California. The egg rolls are all hand-rolled, not machine rolled like other brands.

How is your company able to meet scale for Walmart?

We have three production facilities to produce the Lotus Restaurant products. We are currently only using 30% of our production capacity at all our facilities. We will be able to adjust for Walmart.

Future Pharm, LLC

Gina Haynie, Founder

Future Pharm launched in November of 2016 due to my own health issues. At 49 years old, I realized I was, basically, putting a Band-aid on board to help with my arthritis in my neck. I was taking a lot of ibuprofen along with having Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) on my nerves to stop my pain. Eventually, the nerves grew back together and the pain was back. I really wanted something to help with my pain and as a preventive naturally. I researched for about a year and a half about the benefits of using natural supplements. What I found is that most of them do not stay in your system and are poorly absorbed. In addition, many supplements grown outside of the United States contain heavy metals and other contaminates. Initially, I discovered this for myself, but developed it for others who suffer from pain, inflammation and looking for natural alternatives. I decided to source all Future Pharm products from the best suppliers I could find in the U.S.A.

All Future Pharm products are natural supplements sourced and manufactured from the United States. We do third-party testing on all products and are cGMP compliant. All products are made by a pharmacist with a drug manufacturing license that is FDA registered. Five out of six of our products have Liposome Delivery.

What is your product you are pitching to Walmart?

Black 4 Health Liposome Complex is plant-based food with black radish root, black cumin seed, black garlic and black peppercorn, containing high levels of body-ready healing botanicals. Our supplement contains Liposome Complex for optimal absorption and utilization and helps support liver function, body detoxification, clear skin, cholesterol, blood pressure regulation, weight management, circulation and the immune system with nearly 10 times more antioxidants than regular garlic.

Wild Oil of Oregano with Rosemary Extract & Natural Honey Flavor can be great for natural healing. It is best known for its impact on cold and flu symptoms as it is a powerful antimicrobial. The active ingredient is called “Carvacrol.” This active ingredient is what gives the oregano a spicy flavor. Carvacrol has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect and has been proven to reverse or reduce bacterial infections. We added rosemary extract for shelf life, flavor, memory boost, circulation and rosemary’s anti-inflammatory compounds. Top our most recent formula of the oregano product, we added natural honey flavor, which makes the product taste better and easier to take.

How is your company able to meet scale for Walmart?

Our manufacturers have been in business for 27 years. They can produce products from the smallest to the largest of scales necessary. Their turnaround time on a large order is timely and efficient.

Other Arizona-based companies that made the cut to pitch Walmart merchants at Walmart’s Open Call 2020:

Almond Brothers; DeVita Sin Care; Fixture Zone; Herbal Brands Inc.; Infinitum Health, LLC; La Canasta Mexican Food Products Inc.; Organic Excellence; Pearce Outdoors LLC (ChumPODS); Stone Edge Surfaces; Tucson Tamale Company; and WR Group Inc.

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