Cooking up magic in the kitchen with Walmart Brands

April 25, 2023

2 Min. Read

One of the things I love about being on the Walmart Brands team is that we truly get to save Canadians money so they can live better. I know it sounds like I'm just repeating our mission, but I’ve never felt more connected to it in my 22-year career here.

I lead the team that develops our house-brand products — the ones sold exclusively at Walmart Canada. I feel so lucky to work alongside industry leaders who have shaped Canada’s taste profiles.

In 2022, our Walmart Brands team won five Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards from the Retail Council of Canada. We won prizes for our Great Value 100% Superfine Almond Flour, Your Fresh Market Ricotta & Spinach Ravioli, Great Value Sliced Kiwi, Our Finest Red Leicester Cheese and Great Value Disinfecting Wet Mop Cloths. The team had so many trophies already that we had to put up another shelf for these ones!

The awards are just the icing on the cake to prove that our products can uphold the same standards as any retailer out there. But it’s the process behind them that I find so inspiring: from the strategies developed by our product managers and rigorous sensory testing by our product development team, to the high standards upheld by quality assurance and the incredible work of our sourcing team to find the best products at the best cost.

The magic starts with the product managers, who do extensive market research to see what flavour trends are emerging in food service and what’s hot across the retail sector. They also examine our own sales data to see what our customers are buying.

The key is to define what they believe customers need and want, then use that as a guide as they formulate recipes, seek out high-quality ingredients and develop packaging that meets our sustainability goals. Affordability is always top of mind.

The crew in product development is equally dedicated and meticulous. They’re the lucky ones in the test kitchen who are the first to taste test our new food products.

It’s a lot of fun to sample delicious foods with a group of professionals with expert palates, years of experience in merchandising and lots of opinions.

All of us have our favourites. For my colleague Victor Besa, a product development manager, it’s our tangy, delicious Great Value Adobo Cooking Sauce. It was the first adobo on the market and he says it reminds him of his roots in the Philippines.

I love Your Fresh Market strawberries, which are greenhouse-grown in Ontario. I also have a weakness for Great Value Milk Chocolate Mini Eggs. They’re so good that we sell them year-round, not just at Easter.

When the ratings for our products are high on walmart.ca, we feel confident the quality and taste satisfy customers’ needs and they’ll keep coming back — that’s when we know we have another home run.

For example, everyone loves Your Fresh Market Muffins (my favourite flavour is carrot and my son likes chocolate chip banana). The great news is they have the Ingredient Wise symbol, which means they’re made without synthetic colours, artificial flavours and sweeteners, hydrogenated vegetable oil or monosodium glutamate.

Another big hit is our Great Value Creamy Alfredo Shrimp Fettuccine Pasta Kit. It’s such an easy meal for the family and it tastes great!

It’s neat, right? We actually create the products that enter our customers’ homes. It's a really fun part of the business.

Flora Thay is the Vice President of Walmart Private Brands, Sourcing & Quality. For more about the spirit of innovation that drives Walmart Canada, visit our 2022 Impact Report.