You say “canned tomato”; she says “canned tomato.”
But when you line up Hy-Vee private-label tomatoes next to canned tomatoes from Dahl’s and Fareway or the national Hunt’s brand , who comes out on top?
On Wednesday, quality assurance professionals from Topco Associates, a privately held company that leverages the buying power of its members, performed their annual shopping audit at the Hy-Vee corporate office.
Side by side, they lined up national brands, Hy-Vee brands and local competitors’ private-label brands of everything from sliced and shredded cheese, to canned fruits and vegetables, to dog food and diapers. They took the products out of their packages and laid everything out to show corporate office employees how Hy-Vee products stack up.
“We always tell customers, ‘Why pay more for an equal product?” says Shelley Haberkorn, Hy-Vee assistant vice president of purchasing projects. “Historically, Hy-Vee brand products have always scored better than comparable private-label items. Today we scored well against the national brands as well.”
To adequately compare products, each one is broken down, raisins separated from the bran cereal or mixed nuts separated into specific nut categories. The products are then scored by comparing the quality of the private brand to the national brand. For example, Hy-Vee’s canned tomatoes were consistently peeled, they kept their shape, there were hardly any visible seeds and the color was a perfect “tomato red.” The Hunt’s tomatoes, on the other hand, were broken apart and stringy, giving the Hy-Vee label an “above first (brand name)” score.
The process ensures Hy-Vee-brand products meet Hy-Vee’s high standards.
“It’s always nice to beat the brand names,” says John Reynolds, manager of quality assurance for Topco. “But as long as we match them, it’s a win as far as I’m concerned.”
So when they say “canned tomato,” we say “Hy-Vee.”
Pictured: Tracy Zietlow (white coat) of Topco explains how Hy-Vee-brand canned soups compare to national and other local private brands during a quality assurance demonstration at the Hy-Vee corporate office.