You don't want to know where Trader Joe's foods come from

Originally published at:

What??? They’re not hand-crafted by the indigenous peoples of Narnia? I demand a refund!


Not surprised.
I never had much faith in them, honestly.


Was a wholly different company back in the 80’s, then the Germans bought them…


I know there is debate on some booze-snob sites about where TJ’s-branded bourbon and Scotch come from (and there is reason to believe the bourbon comes from a smaller distiller), but I have wondered if other TJ’s products were basically the same as what you get at Stop-n-Shop: breakfast cereals, soups, tomato sauce, some snacks, etc.-- these have no appreciable difference as far as I can tell.

I basically only buy certain products at TJs, things that are either cheaper than the big chains or just not available elsewhere. They point out that Tribe hummus supplies TJs, but I can’t find that tomato-basil hummus anywhere else, so . . . .

What about this belief that TJs food is all GMO-free?


Like every other supermarket in-house brand. This is not exactly a revelation.


I feel slightly vindicated in my determined rejection of Trader Joe’s. But it wasn’t because I suspected this secret, it was more because whenever I tried something from the store that someone insisted was really good it was always disappointing. I guess this explains it.


Nope - not surprised that a grocery store doesn’t produce the food they sell.


What’s funny about worrying where TJ gets their booze is that fact that even smaller, “craft” distillers often get their product from the same factory-scale source:


I’m the same, I never thought of them as boutique, they just have some stuff that I can’t get elsewhere, and the staff is helpful and friendly and they always have free samples of coffee and food. I have a Trader Joe’s list of things I know they consistently stock that is reliable and nicely priced, and I rarely stray from it. Peanut butter, seltzer, no-salt peanut butter pretzels, soy milk, butter, yogurt, nuts, bananas (always ripen nicely and bruise-less) and avocados (see banana note).


I thought this was kind of obvious. They’re a grocery retailer, not a manufacturer. This is what every retailer does for their store brands.


I thought the story was going to be it came from China and uses saw dust and offal from puppies. Pepsico doesn’t sound so bad compared to that.

I thought ALL store brands were made by other entities, and marketed by them. And many of them came from otherwise name brand manufacturers.


There’s a reason to not like the way some GMO crops are “licensed” and marketed.

Different from “ZOMG GMO GUNNA KILL UR KIDS” which is pure woo.


100% dead on.



Exactly - anybody that thinks they’re getting boutique foo-foo food at those prices is stupid. It’s generally a bit better than the house brand stuff at kroger or publix (which is generally fine).

TJ has a solid selection of decent stuff, excellent frozen seafood, some ethnic foods, quality local (when in season) produce all at good prices and some wine that is so shitty it doesn’t matter how cheap it is.

who thought it was more?


My area recently got a Lidel, and while we have had Aldi’s for a while, I came to a realization. The mega companies have spent the last +40 years crafting their flavor and taste. A grocery store selling the standard brands is fine, but selling almost entirely house brands? The only way that truly works is to either bring your A game and actually have a better product (super rare) or make the product you are selling way cheaper. I mean I like Kraft mac and cheese - it’s $1. I like the Cracker Barrel version even more - it’s $3. The Lidel brand is only $0.69, and it’s just okay. I realize for some people that thirty cents makes a big difference, but personally I forgo other things to buy the brand name stuff I like.

Am I supposed to be surprised that Trader Joe’s branded packaged food is made in food factories that prepare similar items? I am not surprised and I do not care.

I do appreciate that they seem to be a decent company to work for. They offer good pay and good benefits and the company regularly appears on various “best places to work” lists. I have no problem spending money in a place like that.

Also, fun fact, Trader Joe’s will let you sample most of the items in the store - with permission, of course. If it’s alcohol, frozen food or requires cooking, you’re out of luck. Otherwise, find an employee, ask to sample the item in question and they’ll open it on the spot for you (the Mango Joe’s O’s were not to my liking)

Edit: You can’t sample the booze either. I forgot to include that because the TJ’s I frequent doesn’t sell alcohol.


I’ve always likened shopping at Trader Joe’s to walking a minefield. You lose a few toes finding your path across, and once you’ve developed a safe routine you don’t stray from it.


I have joked that the Trader Joe’s business model is as if Communism’s supply chains actually worked, seeing that everything is just the same brand.

They are pretty close to my home, sell some things that the supermarkets in the area don’t and are generally a bit cheaper than expected. I see them as sort of the anti-Whole Foods which seems to intentionally mark up its products just to create snob appeal. [Most of which you can find in other grocery stores for 10-20% less]