It’s gotta be a good job. Rose Ann Shea heads up Hy-Vee’s test kitchen and says staff tastes and tests every item on the shelf. Shea says Hy-Vee offers store-brand alternatives to as many products as possible, starting before the chain’s buyer agrees to stock a product.They taste-test to see if the plain-label food is as good as the brand-name competitor and would sell. Why do grocery-store chains bother selling their own “store brand” items, in addition to brand names from Kraft to Hunts?She says they want to sell more products, and want the Hy-Vee labeled store brand to be good enough to attract buyers. Shea says every Hy-Vee brand item must meet a set of specifications, and the test kitchen checks them all. The goal’s to have private-label foods consistent, so they bake the cake mixes, make the macaroni and cheese, look at the green beans and even separate mixed nuts to make sure there aren’t too many cheap ones. Seasonal sales are taken into account, and Shea says the Hy-Vee test kitchen’s been busy recently checking the quality of pumpkin, cranberry sauce and other holiday foods.
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