Red’s Hot Women internship: THE FOODIE EXPERIENCE

17-03-10 – Soups, sauces and a hidden wonderland

Posted in Uncategorized by Katie Bryson on March 17, 2010

Started the day with a working breakfast with Brand Development’s Co-ordinator Maria Anning.

We checked out the atrium space in one of the buildings at Head Office where Maria’s going to be putting on a special event celebrating the Delia and Heston project. It’s happening on the last day of my internship so will be a cool thing to be involved with.

Maria is really passionate about her job and department and from day one has gone out of her way to make sure I have something interesting to get involved with every single day. It’s really lovely that while people have so much on their plates, they still have time to make my experience with Waitrose a great one.

Next up was soup tasting. A supplier came in to show the team a selection of soups and sauces that they’re currently working on for the brand.

There are so many facets to developing the food that you find on the shelves of Waitrose – it’s not just about hitting the right flavour and texture notes.

The team are also making sure the nutritional composition is within the guidelines, the recipe reflects the values of Waitrose, and the ingredients are sourced correctly.

As a supplier you might have found the only organic supply of sweet corn grown in the UK to make your soup with, but what happens if it’s not very tasty? If you bump up the salt and cream you’re compromising the nutritional value, if you go abroad for tastier sweet corn you’re misleading the consumer that it’s a British product. It’s a real balancing act!

But as you’d expect, Waitrose don’t put a product on the shelves unless it meets all of their rigorous requirements. That’s why the standard of their food is so incredible.

This afternoon I buddied up with Brand Development Technologist Kathryn for a mini Bracknell adventure. After a few failed attempts we managed to find our way to the top secret and very hard to get into Design Building.

This is a HUGE space that’s decked out to replicate a branch of Waitrose. It’s where the team set up their shelves with products to work out where they’re going to put everything in store.

It’s not just a question of making things look good – it’s a fine art of trying to capture the shopper’s attention and maximise what products they see and what they actually pick up.

Every product on the shelves is carefully measured and laid out accordingly.  So when a new set of products arrive on the scene, it’s not a question of just shuffling things along, the whole display has to be totally reconsidered.

There were a couple of buyers in there sorting out their fixtures. I got some great insights into how they were putting their particular sections together.

The psychology of shopping is fascinating stuff and I love the fact that the buyers really try and understand exactly who their customers are, what motivates them and crucially what they’re looking for on the shelves.

I’m now wiser on which tins of tuna to buy and what amazing treats are in store for Christmas this year! Top secret and highly interesting stuff!

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