Like Tesco’s Fresh & Easy, Wal-Mart’s Marketside is focusing on convenience, freshness and prepared foods. Unlike Fresh & Easy – which has emphasised its own-brand products – Marketside is also looking to establish itself as a value retailer of branded goods. As the two new c-store style retailers go head-to-head in the Phoenix area it will be interesting to see which vision appeals most to US consumers. For more on the downsizing trend in US retail, check out just-food’s recent analysis of the situation.

Wal-Mart has revealed that its new Marketside stores will boast a product line-up focusing on fresh foods and prepared meals at "everyday prices".

The company, which is gearing up to open its first Marketside outlets at locations around Phoenix later this week (4 October), said that it will offer "restaurant quality" food without a premium price-tag.

Marketside will carry pre-prepared side dishes like mashed potatoes for US$2, personal-size pizzas for $4, individual serving-size lasagne for $6 and family-size penne pasta with chicken for $8.

"Whether you need a few last-minute ingredients or a prepared meal you can heat and serve, Marketside is here to bring fresh groceries to our new neighbours in Phoenix at great prices," said Mike Darrow, manager of Marketside's Mesa location.

The Marketside stores are designed to serve consumers living in close proximity and, being half the size of a conventional supermarket, are "built to help customers get in and out quickly", the company said.

Emphasising its value credentials, Wal-Mart also revealed that it will offer household brands for "unbeatable prices".

When contacted by just-food, Wal-Mart declined to comment on its Marketside store concept because it "is a very small-scale pilot".