The Secret of Trader Joe's is There Ain't No Secret



I mean, come on. No ones fooled here. Are they?
  • I mean, come on. No one's fooled here. Are they?
Earlier this week, a post from The Huffington Post about the big brands hiding behind the Trader Joe's private labels got a lot of traffic from the Twittersphere. Though, due to the obviousness in its content, it could have very easily been published on the food blog, "Duh" or been titled "To Catch a Retailer." To be fair, the writer, Kristen Aiken, does admit that it's really no secret that TJ's sells marked-down name-brand products under their private label, but says that what is a secret is which brands.

Eh, notsomuch. The examples they use, including the Joe's O's seemed to be only very thinly cloaked in mystery. How could you not know those are repackaged Cheerios? And the vegetarian chili is so obviously repackaged by Amy's Organic that I didn't even realize that the can I bought from Trader Joe's was private label. Though, one of my favorites that they missed is the Trader Joe's version of Sunbutter. I've had jars of both side by side and it's easy to tell that the only difference is the label (and even then, there's a lot of similarity in color scheme and design). Right down to the best-by date printed on the lid, the products are identical. It's kind of hilarious. And the price difference varies by $1 to $1.50 per jar. Which is a lot, though not if you factor in a trip to Green Hills (hence the reason there is a name-brand jar in my house currently).

But the thing I think the story really missed is the actual name-brand products that TJ's carries at a significant price difference. Not everything in the store has some variant of a Trader Joe's label. For example, Kerrygold butter, Lightlife Smart Dogs, Morningstar Bacon, and Tofurky slices are all nearly half the cost at Trader Joe's than they are at Publix. Obviously, my shopping list is very specific, but I'm certain that there are other items in the aisles that are also heavily discounted. Though it seems the only real advantage to the beer aisle is being able to buy a single bottle of beer (in a size smaller than 40 ounces) ...

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