When you shop the aisles of Walmart these days, you will see lots of products sporting new red and blue “Made in the USA” logos. Those labels are part of Walmart’s new initiative to commit $250 billion through 2023 to source and promote products made, grown, and assembled in the USA.
Walmart has implemented a ranking system to help shoppers identify how much of a given product is made in the USA. These labeling distinctions are available on Walmart’s corporate website, but without knowing the relative scale behind the rankings, it can be difficult to discern the different labels when you’re busily gathering the items on your shopping list. So we wanted to put together a shopper-friendly guide to Walmart’s new identification system for their American-made products and highlight some of the ways you can support American jobs by shopping at Walmart.
Note that the Made in the USA labeling system only applies to products that carry Walmart’s private labels like Mainstays, Equate, Great Value, George, Parent’s Choice, etc. National brands are encouraged to visually identify their American-made products on their packaging with their own labels.
How does a product get certified Made in the USA by Walmart?
Manufacturers must apply for certification on the Jobs in U.S. Manufacturing Portal (JUMP) on Walmart’s corporate website. The JUMP portal is the online tool Walmart set up to support its US Manufacturing Initiative, where new US manufacturers can get Walmart’s eyes on their products and where existing suppliers can register for the program’s Made in the USA branding.
Products that are mostly (more than 60%) manufactured in the US or assembled in the US can use Made in the USA labels with additional qualifiers. In other words, many of the products in Walmart sporting the Made in the USA logo will have subtext underneath identifying what percentage of the product was made in America. Some products will also have Assembled in the USA labels, indicating that the product’s raw materials were imported from overseas but the finished product was assembled by American workers.
Made in the USA - Factory Certified
The highest ranking on Walmart’s Made in the USA scale is “Made in the USA - Factory Certified” with no percentage qualifier. Any product on a Walmart shelf that bears this label was wholly manufactured and assembled on US soil by American workers, with the potential exception of the retail packaging.
During our search for Made in the USA products at Walmart, we were impressed to see how many products on the shelves actually qualified for this highest standard. We found the most products in the home and bedding aisles, where products ranging from memory foam to bath mats to pillows qualified for the full “Made in the USA” label under the affordable Mainstays brand.
Made in the USA with 90% (or other percentage) or More US Parts
Most of the products you will see with Walmart’s new patriotic logos will fall into the category of “Made in the USA” with a certain percentage of American-made parts. To qualify for this label, the product must be at least 60% US-made. Products from soap to kitchenwares to candles to diapers to socks qualify for this label.
We were genuinely impressed with how many store brand products earned this type of Made in the USA label when their national brand counterparts were wholly manufactured overseas. For example, Softsoap hand soap is 98 cents per 7.5-oz bottle and made in Mexico, whereas the store-brand Equate bottle of the same size is 60% Made in the USA for only 75 cents. Why should the soap we use every day be made thousands of miles away when we’re perfectly capable of manufacturing it here with American workers, and for cheaper?
Likewise, we were surprised to see several varieties of the George menswear brand of socks labeled “Made in the USA with Imported Yarns” while the name-brand competitors were all shipped in from Asia or Central America. The George brand socks were the most cost effective choice yet supported the most American jobs. When you buy a pair of George socks, you could be helping to support hundreds of hardworking families somewhere in the fruited plain, and saving money at the same time.
Assembled in the USA
Some products are labeled Assembled in the USA, meaning that most or all the materials were manufactured or sourced from overseas, but the final product was compiled in the United States. There are stringent standards on what products are permitted to bear this logo. For example, a manufacturer is not allowed to manufacture pillows in China, ship them into the United States, and then just sew on one extra button to earn the Assembled in the USA emblem. The product must undergo “substantial transformation” in the US to comply with FTC standards. Walmart admittedly had to crack down on some suppliers who were taking advantage of the “Assembled in the USA” label in the past. When in doubt, check the official stamp on the product for its country of manufacture.
While this is the lowest level of the Made in the USA program, remember that assembly jobs are still jobs for American workers. A product assembled in America provides more American jobs than a product made overseas.
The Multiplier Effect
While only store-brand Walmart products can sport the new Made in the USA labels, the initiative has obviously had ripple effects across the spectrum of consumer products. Walmart encourages national brands to design and don their own US-made labels if their products qualify, and many have done so. We were happy to see many products on Walmart’s shelves where both the store brand and the name brand products were sitting side by side with their own patriotic stickers, bringing even more awareness to shoppers as to which products are American-made.
By shining the light on how their own brands of products like Great Value, Equate, and Mainstays can be both US-made and affordable, Walmart is indirectly putting pressure on national-brand suppliers to justify their higher prices while their products are made with cheaper labor overseas. Because Walmart is the largest retailer in the United States, big manufacturers know that a large percentage of their potential consumers now have a clearly labeled American-made alternative sitting right next to their product on the Walmart shelf. To keep from losing customers, for whom American-made products are a top priority, we expect that name brand manufacturers will continue to look for ways they can shift production to the USA and add their own US-made labels to their products to keep up with Walmart’s initiative.
The best part of Walmart’s “Made in the USA” initiative is proving that American-made products don’t have to break the bank. Many have come to associate being “American-made” with being overpriced. But Walmart has shown that products like bath mats and candles don’t have to be made overseas to be affordable, and indeed the lowest price in town, and that many corporations are moving production overseas simply to pocket the extra profits at the expense of deserving American workers.
Walmart makes it easier than any other retailer to find products that support American jobs and American families. Every time you purchase a US-made product instead of a comparable product made in a country where cheap laborers are exploited, you’re helping to provide a fair wage to a hardworking family like yours. Vote with your dollars, and make it count.