I’m a food scientist by trade and I currently manage the product development team at Sam’s Club. My team of nine professional food scientists is responsible for coming up with innovative cuisine that meets the needs of our members and continues to grow our private brand, Member’s Mark.

You may be wondering why Sam’s Club has a team of food scientists. It’s because we understand how the molecular structure of ingredients makes a difference in the way food looks, how it’s textured, and how it tastes.

Earlier this year, we started rolling out 300 new food items, all exclusive to Sam’s Club. Every new item marks the culmination of months of analyzing culinary trends, working with suppliers, and fine-tuning recipes to provide our members with premium-quality products.

We typically spend a year developing each new item – from searching for best-in-class ingredients to fine-tuning prototypes in our commercial kitchen. Before an item is approved for production, it must first pass several blind taste tests at our sensory lab, where panelists weigh in on appearance, taste and texture. We do all this to discover as much as we can about the product, in order to ensure that our private brand is made up of first-rate cuisine that our members can fall in love with.

A good example of what my team does is our work on Member’s Mark Strawberry Preserves. There are a lot of jellies and jams in the marketplace, but we wanted to surprise our members with a much higher level of quality at a fantastic price. We went with a formula that features higher fruit content and no artificial flavors or colors. It looks like this was the right decision – our strawberry preserves recipe cleared the testing process with flying colors and has been very popular in the clubs!

And we’re going to keep on innovating. The product development team is on track to introduce hundreds of new Member’s Mark items next year, and we’re reformulating many existing items to make them better than ever.

I hope our members enjoy these products as much as we’ve enjoyed coming up with them!