Re: Trader Joe’s and Discontinued Items, this is a must read/listen


I came across these two links here recently and want to share them for the insight into Trader Joe’s and discontinued products. Now to we consumers, it may be “my favorite item” at Trader Joe’s. But to Trader Joe’s “its just business”. You may think of Trader Joe’s as a supermarket but it is not a “supermarket”. Think of them as a specialty food vendor. Compared to a regular supermarket, which may stock 40,000 items, an average Trader Joe’s store only stocks 4,000 items. So limited shelf space. If a item doesn’t sell enough Units, to the decision makers at Trader Joe’s, that is a found to be a “slow sales item”. These items will likely be discontinued and be replaced with some other product. We, the consumer have little or nothing to do with it, other than the sales numbers. Read the transcript below of the INSIDE TRADER JOE’S podcast to get insight into how they decide these things.

Its not happy news for us consumers. Unfortunate that’s the way it is. Pretty much “don’t take it personal, it’s just business”. This is why even when I love an item, I know in the back of my mind “don’t fall in love”… because it may dissapear one day. Or if I really like it, I may buy a few of them if they can last….

https://www.thekitchn.com/trader-joes-discontinued-groceries-podcast-23444348

This is particularly disheartening!

What can you do if your favorite TJ’s item is discontinued? Honestly, there’s not much you can do to bring your favorite groceries back once they’re gone. However, if you want to talk about it, there’s the Trader Joe’s Discontinued 🙁 Facebook group (and yes, the sad face is part of the group’s name).”

TRADER JOE’S PODCAST

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/podcast


Inside Trader Joe’s Podcast Transcript — ICYMI: Discontinued Products

Tara: Hey, Matt, what happened to the Peach Salsa?
Matt: In case you missed it, Trader Joe’s Spicy, Smoky Peach Salsa, it was discontinued.
Tara: Yeah, I noticed cuz it’s my favorite salsa of all time and now I can’t buy it.
This is a good topic for another I-C-Y-M-I Edition of Inside Trader Joe’s.
Matt: I-C-Y-M-I, in case you missed it.
Tara: These mini-episodes give us an opportunity to address some of the questions our crew members hear from customers most often.
Matt: And keep asking. The crew loves to answer questions.
Matt: Thinking about getting rid of products, discontinuing products. More often than not, it’s not an indictment of the product itself.
Tara: What gives?
Matt: Well, you know, oftentimes we’ll use a phrase and we probably overly rely on it, slow sales. What does that really mean? What it means is that there weren’t enough customers interested in buying the Peach Salsa to have it continue to make sense. Because if you don’t have high volume or growing volume, the costs of producing and handling a slow selling product are such that it doesn’t make business sense for us. And if you think about how small our stores are, and on a relative basis, they’re smaller than most grocery stores. And how few products we have? On a comparative basis, we have a lot fewer products than other grocery stores. We just physically don’t have room to carry things that aren’t popular, as disappointing as that is to hear and experience.
Tara: So there’s another piece of this, Matt, that I think is kind of important. And it’s what we don’t do to put products on our shelves.
Matt: How so?
Tara: So a lot of retailers work with the companies that make their products, the Consumer Packaged Goods Companies, to put products on shelves using something called
slotting fees. So the Consumer Packaged Goods, the CPG Companies pay the retailer, the
grocery store for shelf space. So even if a product doesn’t sell very well, and even if you see
it in the store and it’s covered with dust, it’s not going anywhere until the Consumer
Packaged Goods Company decides it doesn’t make sense to produce that product anymore.
Matt: Ah, now I get it. It’s the classical play of making money anywhere other than
with a customer buying something at the cash register.
Tara: Right. And at Trader Joe’s, the only way we make money is when the customer buys something at the cash register. So apparently I didn’t buy enough Peach Salsa. But that means that that product hasn’t earned its place on our shelves. We’re not getting paid by the producer of that product to keep it on the shelves. And our business model says let’s develop something new that might sell better and make more customers happy.
Matt: And that approach can feel and sound so cold-hearted, and yet it’s important that we maintain our objectivity about what really is or isn’t working, what really isn’t selling because ultimately customers do let us know if they like something or not.
Tara: Yeah, and I’ll be honest, when I went to buy it that one day a few weeks ago, I was just so sad standing there in front of the salsa selection in the store. And then I thought, okay, I’ll try something new. The great thing about discontinued products is it almost always
means there’s something new coming soon. You can always find new things on our
shelves. A lot of our stores have like a new product section where they’ll highlight a whole
bunch of things that have recently shown up in the stores. It’s kind of fun to try something
new.
Matt: So I see why I, and maybe this is the missing salsa edition, but if you’re
looking for the Double Roasted Salsa, which was one of my favorites, which was sadly
discontinued, you might consider trying the Guajillo Salsa, which I find to be a nice albeit
slightly spicier replacement.
Tara: And I also have taken to the Pineapple Salsa to replace the Peach Salsa if
I’m in the mood for something that has a little sweetness to it. So, there are options. We,
you know, we don’t have every product in the world, but we do have some good options.
Matt: We work hard, the product development team, the tasting panel group, they
work on things by tasting them. They think these things make sense. They think that they’re
delicious. They think they’re worth customers’ time and attention. And if that doesn’t pan
out in that way, well, we’ve gotta move on. Of course, there can be reasons other than slow
sales. Um, if there are quality issues or that we determined that the value that we once had
is no longer as strong. If we are facing different competitive pressures on a given product.
And yet, overwhelmingly, the reason for things to be discontinued at Trader Joe’s is a lack of
interest, slow sales.
Tara: Yeah.
Tara: I’m Tara Miller.
Matt: And I’m Matt Sloan.
Tara: In case you missed it. That’s why your favorite product might have been discontinued it. Thanks for listening.

NYC TRADER JOE’S WINE SHOP ON 14th St. SUDDENLY CLOSED, PERMANENTLY!


If you are a fan of one of the best wine shop’s New York City had (Trader Joe’s on East 14th Street) you will be very shocked and saddened by this news. The wine shop is HISTORY.

https://www.timeout.com/newyork/news/new-york-citys-only-trader-joes-wine-store-has-closed-081122

Trader Joe’s sole New York WINE STORE, next to a regular Trader Joe’s on 14th Street near 3rd Avenue. This was my favorite wine shop in NYC. Great curated selections, great prices. Nice knowledgeable staff. They say they are looking for a “better location”? (I hope the next location might be the Upper West Side) There is very old New York “blue law” that states a company like Trader Joe’s can only have ONE store in the state. So this was the only TJ’s Wine Store in the whole state of New York.

Why so suddenly?

Reddit thread said it was issues with NYU who owns the building it’s in which is a dorm and having liquor so close by. One reader said they heard it closed because the workers were talking of unionizing.

https://p2a.co/PN3k0Fq

This is a petition by workers from the store who state the reason for the sudden closure as “union busting”.

MORE NEWS ON THIS, VIA LINKS HERE:

Trader Joe’s VEGETABLE MASALA BURGERS


MEH

I’m not vegetarian. Still I like to try vegetarian options and see if they are any good. I love (repeat, love!) Indian food. This looked a bit appealing to me, the picture intrigued me and it says “with Authentic Indian Spices”. After all “Masala” means mixed spices. Tasting it, all I could think of “spices? what spices?”. To me, they’re almost non-existent. So short review is this is OK. It’s also not terribly exciting either and Indian food generally is. This could be served to an Indian baby. Most any authentic Indian dish is exploding with spices used very freely. Masala Dosa for example is basically mashed potato but has a ton of spices which make it delicious. This “masala burger” is primarily potatoes, so its kind of basically a mashed potato burger. It has pieces of vegetables in it, such as red pepper and corn. The concept is not bad – it’s just the lack of spices which defeats the purpose of calling it “masala” (mixed spices). The burger is OK, just lacking an authentic Indian spice profile which might make it tasty. If you put this on a bun as is it will basically be a potato sandwich.

These need something added to it. Sriracha. Peri-peri sauce. Zhough. Bomba. Magnifisauce. Some actual Indian Masala Spices if you have them. At least put some garlic powder on these if you make them and add some Hatch chile flakes. The only thing that perked this up a little bit was putting a little TJ’s TAMARIND SAUCE on, which is basically a tamarind chutney sauce. My wife told me “one was enough” and she usually scarfs down my cooking, so that was not a good review. If you’re vegetarian it might be worth checking out as an option as long as you fix it up. 4 burgers are $2.99. I won’t buy this again, however vegetarians might like this if they do something to it.

Trader Joe’s PEANUT & CRISPY NOODLE SALAD KIT


“CRISPY NOODLE SALAD KIT: The crispy part of the kit includes a package of tiny fried rice “CRISPY NOODLES”. The problem? After you put on dressing? These become “Not Crispy” Noodle bits.

Pros: The Asian style Peanut Dressing they give you is tasty. It’s a bit similar to TJ’s Organic Sesame Dressing (so you could make something like this yourself using that dressing)

Cons: Cabbage as the first ingredient in the salad. I thought it was cut way too big so the salad is a bit tough and too chewy. The softer Romaine lettuce, not cabbage, should have been the first ingredient IMO, plus this cabbage should be sliced thinner. However the main problem with this whole idea for a “Crispy Noodle salad kit” is obvious. The moment you mix in those “crispy noodles” (which are tiny, see pic) with the dressing and mix it all in, the “crispy noodles” become not crispy, of course. Maybe if they used some larger kind of crispy noodles, maybe like the kind you get in a Chinese restaurant? For me, these little fried rice noodles are a Fail. We both though this salad just wasn’t good. I won’t buy it again. Its goes for $3.99. You want crispy? What might work is add some lightly crushed PLANTAIN CHIPS to this. Or croutons.

CedarLane “Authentic Mexican Style” PULLED PORK TAMALES


“Cedarlane Authentic Mexican Style Pulled Pork Tamales”

I was in the mood for tamales, and I saw these at Trader Joe’s (Refrigerated). My review – as is frequently in the case chez Trader Joe’s with some “ethnic products” – is that these tamales are neither very good nor very bad, they’re “just OK”. These tamales are sold under their own brand (CedarLane) “Authentic, Mexican Style Pulled Pork Tamales.” Authentic, Mexican? That’s really stretching it for honest advertising. My bar for “authentic Mexican” is pretty high. In NYC we have a farily large Mexican population. Not as large as California of course but we are lucky in that one can get very decent Mexican food in New York City. So I have eaten homemade tamales made by women selling them out of a cooler, and most were all terrific. I’ve also gotten tamales from street trucks, ditto. Not to mention in Mexico. So I know a good tamale when I see it and these Cedarlane tamales are not those. These are Blancos factory versions of tamales and get a “Meh”! Edible but nothing to write about. I found them barely seasoned, though they list three kinds of chiles I couldn’t really taste them. These are dumbed down tamales. The filling inside here is a mush of meat and sauce, no chunks of pulled pork as I was expecting. The masa layer is a bit too thin for my tastes. Tamales are all about the corn and the Masa layer as much as the filling. Finally of course these CederLane tamales are made with canola oil – not lard which is “authentic”. OK I know the word lard doesn’t sound appetizing to you but lard is authentic Mexican and it makes for good masa. So while we didn’t hate these, and we ate them and kind of enjoyed them with adding some good salsa, we just didnt find them at all authentic Mexican. So I might not buy these again. I may search out other Trader Joe’s frozen tamales I’ve seen there and check if those are any better.

These are $6.99 (1.75 per tamale)

Send Trader Joe’s A Message: Discontinued Items – What can you do to TAKE ACTION?


https://www.traderjoes.com/home/contact-us/product-feedback

Upset about a discontinued product? Why don’t you let Trader Joe’s know how you feel? I found the area on the TRADER JOES website that seems to let one do that (see link) Give them your feedback and who knows? Just maybe if enough people complain about something. Would they reconsider about a discontinued item IF they see there is enough potential demand? Now of course I have no idea if these will have any affect. Maybe it’s a waste of time. Still I wonder if there’s some number which might get someone at Corporate’s attention….. If they see 25 message probably nothing, but if they saw hundreds and hundred of complaints I wonder ….?

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/contact-us/product-feedback

Trader Joe’s “SPICY JOLLOF SEASONED RICE MIX”


Trader Joe’s “SPICY JOLLOF SEASONED RICE MIX” with dried tomatoes, onion and garlic

There was actually a little controversy across the internet when this product first came out, as some viewed this as a bit of cultural appropriation on Trader Joe’s part. What is JOLLOF RICE ? It’s a very famous African dish eaten widely across parts of West Africa, especially Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and The Gambia. Even in Africa the dish has a little controversy. Whose version is the best? Is it Nigerian or Ghanaian – or Senegalese where it has a different name (Tchebu Jen) ? The dish is considered the national dish of Senegal where it’s Thieboudienne or Tchebu D’jen. (The word “Jollof” is an English variation of the word “Wolof” which means both a language and a people/tribe)

In my lifetime, I’ve eaten many many plates of authentic Senegalese Tchebu D’jen in many African restaurants back in the day when there were a dozen African restaurants on 116th Street in Harlem when the street used to be known as Petit Dakar . I love this dish and variations of it. Taste a real version of this dish if you ever have the chance. An authentic “JOLLOF RICE” (aka Party Rice, aka Tchebu Djen) from Nigeria, Ghana, or Senegal is an amazing dish. It’s complicated to make with a number of ingredients, another reason that Trader Joe’s coming out with this “instant” version caused a wee bit of controversy on the internet. The mix was developed by a Nigerian family here I believe.

Here’s my take. Out of the package, this is a far, far cry from an authentic African Joloff Rice. I fixed it up when I made it. It has some potential if you fix it up to make something better, not close to what your Nigerian granny would make but something semi-OK and better than just making this package as is.

Here’s my suggestions on how to fix this up: In a large pot, put a tablespoon olive oil and butter (you probably don’t have Palm Oil which is best) Stir in a huge tablespoon of tomato paste. Cook for 30 seconds and add a chopped up tomato, 1/2 a chopped onion, 4 cloves of garlic minced. Cook 2 minutes, then add your cooking liquid (water, but chicken or veggie broth would be better). 3 cups as the package says is a lot. I reduced to about 2 3/4 cups as the veggies have water. Add a few carrots and a 1/4 cabbage. Boil for 5 minutes. THEN add the package of this “JOLOFF RICE” mix. Add some Smoked Paprika and as much as you like of some spicy mix of PERI-PERI, BOMBA, or ZHOUG . Once it boils lower to a simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Let it sit 5 minutes covered to absorb all liquids. When you are ready, serve rice with vegetables on the side/top, and serve some of those spicy sauces on the side for people to adjust to their tastes.

Tchebu Jen is made with smoky dried stockfish in the broth and served with fresh fish. I ate it with some fish on top (smoked sardines and salmon) Other ideas are serving this with grilled chicken or maybe grilled SHAWARMA chicken.

TJ’s SPICY JOLLOF SEASONED RICE mix is $2.69 for an 8 oz package.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/spicy-jollof-seasoned-rice-mix-070883

“Originating in West Africa as far back as the 14th century, Jollof rice is more than just an esteemed and storied dish, it’s a cultural force of its own. It’s served as the inspiration for countless recipes across the African diaspora, including jambalaya and gumbo. It’s even sparked a friendly (if not, at times, heated) rivalry between a handful of nations regarding who makes the best version. If you’ve ever had the chance to try it, you know exactly why it’s remained such a vital part of African cuisine for over 700 years.”

NEWS!! PET OWNERS: Trader Joe’s is DISCONTINUING ALL CANNED CAT & DOG FOOD!


RANT

“Dear Customers: Due to sourcing issues, we are discontinuing all of our canned cat and dog food. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

april 2022

Argh$#^!!!!

Boy, this news really really sucks for all of us cat and dog owners who have been buying canned dog and cat food for years and years at Trader Joe’s. In a few weeks or whenever they run out of existing stock, TJ’s won’t have canned pet food! Therefore you might want to stock up asap while supplies last. I have bought a number of cans of cat food while they last.

The issue?! Trader Joe’s sourcing problem reflects the whole pet food industry now.

https://funkstownvet.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-pet-food-shortage/

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/announcements?category=customer-updates&id=1165614645

So I get there’s a pet food sourcing problem now, but why doesn’t TJ’s not just give up on finding a another source? Anyone want to start a petition? – start a petition on change.org

“To Our Valued Customers:

We understand that maintaining a consistent food routine is of the utmost importance for our pets. Due to inconsistent availability and ongoing sourcing issues, we are in the process of discontinuing and selling through all remaining inventory of the following products:

  • Ocean Fish, Salmon & Rice Dinner Premium Cat Food
  • Turkey & Giblets Dinner Premium Cat Food
  • Grain Free Salmon Recipe Cat Food
  • Grain Free Turkey Recipe Cat Food
  • Grain Free Beef Recipe Dog Food
  • Grain Free Chicken Recipe Dog Food

Given the time and care involved in introducing our furry, four-legged friends to new foods, we hope this notice enables you to prepare for the transition accordingly. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.”

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN/ DIY PET FOOD. You can make your own pet food; I make my own wet cat food and have done this for years. It can be as simple as tossing 3-4 chicken legs in a pot with a carrot, a potato and a some whole grains (brown rice). Add enough water so an inch or two covers everything. Simmer covered on low heat for 2-3 hours until the meat falls off the bones. Add an egg or two and stir. Let cool a bit. Remove bones. Remove meat and chop up (including fat and cartilege), or use a potato masher. Get it to consistency of what pet food looks like. I let it cool then put in saved used TJ yogurt containers. Freeze and take out as needed. Pets should eat some commercial food too which has some needed nutrients (like taurine). I mix my wet food with some dry cat food too which it seems that Trader Joe’s will still (hopefully) continue to carry. They only mentioned dropping canned food. I still see Bench and Field Cat Food (and Dog Food) on the shelves and they are just a reseller of this product so hopefully it will remain stocked.

UPDATE June 2022 : 2 months later, I still see small pricier cans of the $1.19 cat food left in stock.

Trader Joe’s BUTTERMILK BRINED HALF CHICKEN


Trader Joe’s BUTTERMILK BRINED HALF CHICKEN

Gave this new product addition a try as it sounded a bit interesting. I grilled the chicken in a cast iron pan. Was it really “exceptionally moist and juicy” as advertised? Frankly it was OK however I found the taste and texture really nothing special. My main question was given the premium price ($5/lb) is it worth it – Versus – my just buying bone in chicken at Trader Joe’s (which is around 1/2 the price) then fixing that up myself. Marinating it in buttermilk or yogurt takes minutes to make, though it does need time to marinate). Now TJ’s sells a whole chicken for $1.99 a lb. or about $10-11 for a 5 lb bird which will feed 4 (or you can buy parts for $2-4/lb.)

The 1/2 chicken I got was 1.5 lbs. Clearly from a very small chicken (around 3 lbs) The leg here only had about 3 bites worth of meat on it, though the breast was fairly meaty. It came with the neck too, something that most people might just throw away (me, I gave it to the cats!) So cooked, there was not a ton of meat on this 1/2 chicken. I doubt this 1/2 chicken will “serve two people?” as they suggest. In sum, I didn’t find this a very good value. It would be cost way less to just buy chicken and just marinate it myself. Personally I would more likely marinate it in Greek YOGURT (yogurt makes for very tender chicken). For a better flavor than this bland marinade I would use a lot of spices, for an Indian or Middle Eastern flavor. Tumeric, Cumin, Garlic, Ajika. Now that would be make a way more interesting grilled chicken dish than how this pretty meh chicken turned out. Also, it may not be a fair comparison yet still I could not help thinking for I paid for this 1/2 chicken ($7.50) I could have picked up a whole rotisserie chicken for less (BJs or Costco) and they are very tasty. So personally I probably will not buy this buttermilk brined chicken again. If I wanted “easy and ready to cook” I would rather pick up something right next to this that I know is actually worth it : TJ’s SHAWARMA CHICKEN which sells for a dollar more a pound than this, and as its boneless, has zero waste so more bang for the buck.

Now since writing this review, I have learned a TikTok video recipe about this Trader Joe’s brined half chicken went viral and sparked a lot of interest in this chicken. I watched the video. The cooking techniques she does look sound to me (salting to bring moisture to the surface, wiping off moisture, grilling the skin, and then roasting) however this should produce as good results with any marinated or brined chicken.

TJ says: https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/buttermilk-brined-half-chicken-073854

“Are you a seeking the secret to sensationally moist and juicy Chicken? Search no further, your quest is complete—it’s Buttermilk! This cultured dairy product makes a magnificent marinade, as the acidity in the Buttermilk will tenderize the chicken, allowing it to retain more of its juices when cooking…”

Great copy-writing however the product didn’t live up to this description in my opinion. Of course try it for yourself if you are interested. However I would suggest if you do, season it up quite a bit. It’s pretty bland as-is.

Trader Joe’s caught red-handed SHRINKING SOME ITEMS ! (Shrinkflation / Inflation)


I’ve been hearing a lot about how stores are shrinking some items as opposed to an outright price increase to kind of disguise price increases from us consumers. This is “Shrinkflation”

Look carefully at the sign. The sign says the jar of this (very good!) marinara sauce contains “26 ounces”. If you look at the label on the jar, it says “24 oz“. Clearly a jar of this marinara use to contain 2 more oz. I assume this change was fairly recently since they didn’t have time to change the sign.

Shrinking packages and the amounts in them is one way vendors try to hide a price increase – by giving you less even thought they didn’t raise the price hoping you won’t notice. This is referred to as SHRINKFLATION. Someone clearly goofed up at my TJ’s and forgot to change the sign but no doubt they will soon lest you know what really happened to the missing 2 ounces of sauce!

Have your parents ever said, “I remember when you could make the kids three sandwiches from a can of tuna”? Its true. Cans of tuna are famous for shrinking and shrinking and shrinking over the years….

UPDATE: Another one – a reader reports TJ’s Orange Juice is now 52 oz, less than it used to have.

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