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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A delegation of Walmart food buyers went to the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York this week to sing the praises of cauliflower-crust pizza and tell small entrepreneurs: "We're eager to work with you."

Why it matters: Walmart has been ardently courting "the wealthy shoppers in superstar cities who traditionally shop on Amazon," as Axios' Erica Pandey writes. Going toe-to-toe with Amazon’s Whole Foods means cozying up to mom-and-pops who sell artisanal halva, Malaysian condiments, organic cotton candy and other items at the trade show.

  • Unlike in times past, Walmart is willing to work with small-batch food makers to figure out packaging, supply chain, and inventory issues.
  • "We heard you guys say it's not easy to get into a Walmart, so we are evolving," Rush said. "We're changing our process."
"Our customer is asking for change, asking for top brands, asking for new foods."
— Laura Rush, Walmart VP and frozen foods buyer, told the specialty food makers.

Mythbusting: Many of the 2,400 exhibitors at the trade show would be hard-pressed to supply 4,000 Walmart stores, noted Kevin Head, VP and divisional merchandise manager for breakfast and bread. “We have items that are in 10 stores,” he assured them.

  • Head described Walmart's big forays into home delivery, curbside pickup, and autonomous vehicles. "When that technology is ready, we will be ready," he said.

The state of play: Among the hottest comestibles-of-the-moment is ... water, according to the Specialty Food Association, which runs the trade show. "Specialty waters are the top category forecast to grow over the next five years," according to a release.

  • Jerky and meat snacks, vegetable-based carb substitutes, plant-based snacks and dairy alternatives, and African foods also top the trends list.

Go deeper: The craft chocolate revolution

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

4 hours ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.