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Wegmans conducts survey on consumer baby-care shopping habits

BY Drew Buono

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Wegmans Food Markets is conducting a survey through its newsletter to find out among other objectives, how it measures up against mass merchants and wholesale clubs when it comes to baby’s needs.

Earlier this week, the chain sent an invitation to its email newsletter subscribers urging them to take an online survey of their baby care preferences and shopping habits. The survey is aimed at those customers who have purchased baby products at its stores within the last two months.

The chains is asking its customers to gauge the importance of such factors as the amount of in-store space dedicated to baby items, variety, the availability of store brands and club packaging, adequate inventory, price; and such non-category factors as time spent at checkout, a child-friendly environment, and assistance in carrying groceries to the car. The survey is also looking for shopping behavior with regard to baby care categories at its rivals including warehouse clubs, mass merchants, and supercenters.

Wegmans also is asking survey respondents whether it has been able to live up to their shopping expectations; and how it could improve the shopping experience in regard to baby care items.

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Gurkan appointed Campbell’s vp of development

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMDEN, N.J. Campbell Soup Co. has appointed Tarkan Gurkan as its vice president of corporate development.

Gurkan joins Campbell after 14 years in the food industry business, including seven years with Lehman Brothers, four years with Nabisco Holdings Corporation and three years with Pepsi-Cola Company. He previously worked for the Koc Group, a Turkish industrial company.

Gurkan earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Turkey’s Bogazici University and his master’s in business administration from Dartmouth College.

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Research shows use of sought-after sweetener is safe

BY Jenna Duncan

ROCKVILLE, Md. A study into possible health effects associated with stevia, a natural, calorie-free herb used to make sweetener being researched for use in U.S. food production, concluded that the additive is safe. The study is expected to be published next week online, sources said.

A Web journal called Food and Chemical Toxicology is slated to publish findings from the study, funded by Cargill. Cargill and Coca-Cola are working towards gaining U.S. regulatory approval for a sweetener extracted from the South American herb, branded Truvia.

In the 1990s, the FDA denied stevia for use as an additive, stating that there was not enough evidence to prove its safety. However, it was approved later to be sold as a dietary supplement.

Some reports, dating back to 1985, have said that stevia can cause mutations in the livers of rats and potential fertility problems for men. Coke and Cargill have disputed these claims and insisted that their new product is much different from unrefined forms of stevia used in early testing. The companies are moving to go ahead with product development and distribution in countries that have approved stevia for use, such as Brazil, China and Japan.

Though some countries have reportedly banned stevia, a recent report by the World Health Organization said there were no major toxicity risks associated, but also said more studies should be done on the health effects on people with hypertension and diabetics.

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