Making the Grade

The depth and breadth of Sysco’s product offering has made us a leader in the foodservice industry. Yet even with as strong a product portfolio as Sysco’s, changing tastes and emerging trends mean that new products are frequently being added to the mix. So how can Quality Assurance keep pace with an ever-evolving product mix? Easy: with a little hard work, dedication and a proven process.

When Sysco decides to develop a new product or enter a new product category, the first step is to establish a set of quality specifications. When possible, specifications are developed along guidelines set by agencies such as the USDA, FDA or USDC. These agencies give Sysco QA a great starting point, although the final specifications developed by Sysco are frequently more strict and hold our products to a much higher standard.

If the new product being developed doesn’t have agency-driven grading standards or standards of identity, then Sysco has to start from scratch. In this case, Sysco experts study the marketplace to see what types of products are being manufactured by competitors and purchased by consumers to determine which attributes are driving sales. Is it the color, freshness, shape, size, cut, condition, aroma? There are literally hundreds of factors to consider.

After market analysis is complete, competitive product evaluation can begin. At this phase, Sysco gathers a broad array of product samples from national brands and from competing distributors. QA personnel then spend time evaluating and grading these products against the attributes we feel are most important, based on intensive product research and prior experience with similar products and product categories.

Once a baseline for commercial acceptability has been established, the final step is to determine the quality target for the product. This ensures that the final Sysco Brand product fits the market need and can offer real value to our customers.

Determining the final quality target for a product is driven by the market niche Sysco is looking to fill and where that niche positions the product within the Sysco Brand family. If the market need is for a product that far exceeds current competitive offerings, then Sysco produces an Imperial level product. If the need is for a product that is as good as or slightly better than the competition, the new product in question will be developed against Sysco Classic brand standards. If the need falls in line with our more cost-conscious clientele, then a quality product will be produced at our most affordable level—Sysco Reliance.

Once all of this is done, Sysco QA crafts a final set of specifications and works with our valued suppliers to make sure they fully understand and can deliver to spec — each and every time. But rest assured that Sysco QA’s involvement won’t end there. For the lifetime of that new product and the supplier relationship, Sysco QA personnel will be a regular sight: checking, inspecting, measuring, tasting, smelling and more. Because once a product earns the Sysco Brand label, our customers know what to expect. And Sysco always delivers.

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