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.

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

RANT: TUSCANO MARINARA SAUCE (discontinued) + Marinara RECIPE


“Trader Giotto’s” Low Fat Tuscan Marinara

RANT

Ode to yet another discontinued Trader Joe’s product, a classic rant about an excellent TJ product, which they discontinued! Some people thought this was the best marinara sauce on the market. Many were bumbed to learn TJ’s Discontinued their favorite tomato sauce! So why am I writing about this now? Well the other day I happened to be clearing out my pantry and found I had a can of this Marinara way in the back. I opened it and tasted it and was pretty shocked to see how good it was. This marinara is, or should we say was, a terrific sauce. For one thing it’s not super smooth, it’s full of chunks of tomatoes like a homemade sauce you had put together. The current glass jars of Marinara sauce that Trader Joe’s replaced this with are smooth. I made a pasta dish using this Marinara and the dish turned out really well. I made a pizza with it a few days later which also turned out great. So yes, it’s a crime TJ’s got rid of this great and very useful sauce. Mind boggling. So just posting this Rant and sorry you won’t be able to find this really great product anymore . At least TJ’s still sells the 28 oz cans of crushed or diced tomatoes which will make you a great sauce with little effor. I always have cans of tomatoes in the pantry as well as tomato paste (can and/or tube) So if you are inclined to make your own sauce, which is not hard and I think is worth the little effort it takes. Here’s an EASY HOMEMADE MARINARA RECIPE from NatashasKitchen, link below.

TIP (1) IMO adding a tablespoon of tomato paste at the start will make it even better (2) My mom taught me useful advice: Just double up the recipe when you cook some things because for the same amount of effort you will have another meal. You can also freeze the extra batch.

Pizza from scratch; made using this terrific marinara sauce

Trader Joe’s BROWN RICE MEDLEY


(UPDATE: SADLY THIS GOOD PRODUCT WAS DISCONTINUED!

The original RAVE is now a RANT!!!) Read the Comments

Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley – “A delicious blend of long grain brown rice, black barley and daikon seeds”

This is both healthy and a little bit of an improvement over just plain brown rice. It’s a tasty mix of parboiled brown rice plus two slightly unusual additions – black barley and daikon seeds. Who knew you can eat daikon seeds? I didn’t until discovering this product.

We cooked up this rice blend and it got a seal of approval from both myself and my wife as it made an interesting, nutty tasting rice side dish. However I found Trader Joe’s instructions need a tiny bit of modification regarding liquid amounts. I suggest less liquid than they say on the package. So instead of the 2 1/2 cups they state I say try 2 1/4 cups of water or stock (to 1 cup of rice). For a ratio of slightly more than 2:1. Also if using just water, you should add a bit a salt. Butter is a good idea. Letting it sit (without peeking!) at the end for 10 minutes is important so all the liquid gets fully absorbed. Fluff up with a fork when done. Hitting this with a little more butter is a good too. Possibly some chopped parsley? Serve with your favorite main. Its $1.99 for a 1 pound bag. Worth trying. PS If you find it a bit too cooked for your tastes or mushy, the next time you make it reduce the cooking to 30 minutes (instead of the 35 mins written on the package). The brown rice in this has been par-boiled. Normally regular brown rice needs about 45 minutes.

NB: This post has gotten more Comments then any other post! A lot of people have complained about this being discontinued. One reader found it available online (at a pretty steep price though). Read the Comments for the details if interested.

I did find “DAIKON SEEDS” on Amazon. I don’t see why you couldn’t mix these into brown rice? Here’s a link to the product on Amazon

https://amzn.to/3IOdzxs

DITTO: Black Barley

https://amzn.to/3ceiNq3

Could you mix this up yourself? Might be worth a try!

TJ’s CARRIES BROWN JASMINE RICE AND BROWN BASMATI RICE– regular brown rice just takes 10 more minutes as this mix had parboiled brown rice.

HARVEST GRAIN BLEND IS ALSO GOOD AND THEY STILL SELL IT. ONE COULD MAKE BROWN JASMINE RICE AND HARVEST GRAIN BLEND AND MIX THEM TOGETHER GENTLY.

Sriracha Ranch, GONE !?! Say it isn’t so Joe!


RANT

Reported Discontinued during the Summer of Covid-19, Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha Ranch Dressing. The one and only super versatile stuff, which I just adore, well, make that adored (big sigh!)

This is one of Trader Joe’s best products which I previously reviewed with a RAVE– so I find this particularly shocking! WTF, Trader Joe’s?! Just to make sure it was not just out of stock for a long time, I when to my store’s Captain to ask him to check the status. Unfortunately he confirmed my worst fear – “It’s been  Disco’ed”(discontinued)

Other than start a campaign to bring it back (has this ever worked?) I will be stingy using the little bit left of the bottle in my fridge now. I may experiment with a DIY version. Some TJ’s RANCH DRESSING mixed with Sriracha or Green Dragon sauce. I won’t be as good but maybe better than nothing

If you are as shocked or mad, please leave your opinions about this in COMMENTS. Things like this were the reason I started this site in the first place.

RECIPE for something in the ballpark. Not the same, but not pretty good. I mixed some TJ PERI PERI sauce with some Suzie’s MAYO and it was pretty tasty, in the Sriracha Ranch ballpark.

Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha Ranch Dressing


UPDATE: AUG 2020 – Discontinued during Covid-19!

BALLPARK: PERI PERI & Suzie’s MAYO mixed up in whatever “hot” ratio you can take or like is a workaround I am trying. It’s not exactly the same but pretty tasty!

This is one of those “only at Trader Joe’s” products, or at least I’ve never seen another type of product like this one.

I’ll start by saying one could say I am a little bit of a “Sriracha freak”. I mean I love the stuff, and in general I love “the Spicy” but in no way would I deem myself to be one of those chile-head types who go for sauces with “Death Head” logos on the label.  No thanks.

Me, I want a balance of heat AND flavor. Therefore I love – and I mean LOVE – the original Huy Fong Foods SRIRACHA sauce, which is one of the greatest food products on the planet. Its a product who’s fan’s are legion. I will put it on lots of different things. Still I never tried it on SALAD. So guess what? Sriracha Salad Dressing is actually a terrific idea! And Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha Ranch Dressing  is a terrifically marvelous unique product.

Its a ranch-style salad dressing, which is very spicy. How spicy? Well in its original version, which Trader Joe’s has changed and toned down since I first tasted it, I would have to use this stuff sparingly, as mere dollops. It was actually far, far spicier than actual Sriracha or most hot sauces for that matter. I used to mix it with some yogurt or mayo to tone it down a wee bit, but that is no longer the case. I’m talking about when it originally came out – a year ago? Can others please confirm this change to tone down the heat? I have a feeling people complained it was just too spicy, and they reformulated it with much less of a heat level. Anyway I just bought a bottle and it doesn’t seem nearly as spicy as it used to be, though it is still spicy, and still very good! Not only is  this ranch dressing good on salad or greens of course but it has many, many more uses on all kinds of foods. You can put a little on the side as a sauce for most anything, for instance grilled chicken, or shrimp, or fish, or grilled tofu, or what have you.

In fact you can use this as an ingredient to cook with it. For instance, try brushing this stuff on chicken which you would bake, broil, or grill. Its awesome on hamburgers, mixed with some ketchup for some homemade spicy “special sauce”. Try a little on some asian style noodles… with some chunky organic peanut butter on top? In fact try this on just about anything you think might be better with some spice to it. You will come up with some interesting tests.

So congratulations on a fantastic product, Trader Joe’s. Some chile-heads might be disappointed that you toned down the heat a bit for mere mortals. (But folks, you can mix some Sriracha sauce with this, if you want it spicier still, or add some cayenne pepper and it will be like it used to be). It sells for $2.99 (16 oz. bottle) which is not bad since most TJ salad dressings are 8 oz bottles?

So try this, its one of those love it or hate it type TJ products! Do I love it? Yes, yes, yes! I’m giving this product a:

RAVE

54860-organic-sriracha-ranch-dressing

By the way, the story of HUY FONG FOODS SRIRACHA and it’s founder Vietnamese refugee David Tran, is one of the best American immigrant success stories there is!

ADDITIONAL LINKS

http://nextshark.com/sriracha-hot-sauce-david-tran-vietnamese/

https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/14-things-you-didnt-know-about-sriracha-including-its-proper-pronunciation

https://www.pri.org/stories/2013-10-22/story-how-one-hot-sauce-huy-fong-sriracha-got-so-hot

 

Nuts & Heartbreak At Trader Joe’s


nuts1

A tale about Trader Joe’s Roasted ALMONDS IN THE SHELL.

nut·crack·er

pronunciation:ˈnətˌkrakər/

NOUN  1) a device for cracking nuts.

—-

Oh! This is so just typical… I find a new product at Trader Joe’s that looks interesting , says to myself ‘Self, you have to try this!’, buy it, open it up and instantly think, “OMG this is so great! I love it! I will buy this from now on, every time I go to TJ’s”!!!! And so it happened with this product :

Trader Joe’s Roasted ALMONDS IN THE SHELL.

I’ve bought natural almonds in the shell before, back in the day, when you sat down, Old School with a bowl and a nut cracker. In the old days, my folks and I would sit down together with a bowl of nuts and our family nutcracker and crack each one open to enjoy as we chatted or watch a tv show together. Its a bit of work cracking open nuts over and over but that was the way you ate nuts back then in the 70’s. You didn’t pay peons in some foreign land to not just grow them for you, but to also sit there and open them for you too, you lazy Gringos. We opened them ourselves with a nutcracker.2009673-man-cracking-walnut-with-metal-nutcracker-in-hand-isolated-on-white-background

And nowadays? Everyone’s gotten so lazy, its hard to even imagine a family with a nut cracker spending time opening your own nut you are about to eat. But yes thats why there is such a thing as a “nutcracker”.

So I see these babies in a bag, “Almonds In The Shell” and notice upon close examination in the bag that they appear to have somehow been “pre-cracked” (?!!) I mean they look like pistachio nuts with a little slit waiting for your thumbnail to just pry apart. Very interesting ! So I says to myself, boy those guys at Trader Joe’s have figured out that we still want the enjoyment of sitting down with some nuts and opening them but with a little help. Make it easier than the old nutcracker. And sure enough, when I try them, they are easy to open! They are just like pistachios, you just pry them apart with your fingernails. No nut cracker needed! The shells are somehow thin. Much thinner than any unshelled almond I’ve ever see before. How did they manage that?!

Its like someone at Trader Joe’s found the Holy Grail of Nuts.

And TASTE? Oh man, they are FABULOUS. My taste buds seem to think they’re better than the shelled almonds. As if they’re holding a little extra flavor inside the shell with the almond that’s there waiting to escape as soon as you pry them open. You can smell it. They are just so…. almond-y! Like a Super Almond. They are really SO VERY GOOD!

I am in love.

They become my new favorite Trader Joe item. I buy a package every time I go to Trader Joe’s.  I find a pound can just last a few days- if that. We go through the bag like butter. I have to hide them from myself (and my wife) otherwise they can go in a night watching some movie on Netflix, cracking open almond after almond. But it seems better than just putting a hand down and putting two or three in your mouth. There’s work involved. OK, very little work but still you have to open them. You’re burning up a few calories doing it right?

There’s are  shelves full of them. I even see them featured in the NEW PRODUCTS section. On display. In a huge, huge pile.

A few weeks pass, and my wife goes to get them and comes back empty handed. She say’s there weren’t any. I go in a week or two and see its not there. Worse, the shelf where I was picking them up from in the Nuts section, doesn’t even have the Sign for them up!

Oh No! NO NO NO! You GODAMM TRADER JOES Muthafuggas!!

We all know this scenario. This sinking feeling. That oh so Trader Joe’s feeling you get at the pit of your stomach when you realize, “Oh no! Maybe this is not just Out Of Stock! Maybe this is (gulp!) A DISCONTINUED ITEM !2009673-man-cracking-walnut-with-metal-nutcracker-in-hand-isolated-on-white-background.jpg!!

If you are a TJ regular, you KNOW this feeling. Its a bad feeling. Almost like learning a best friend has died. Almost like turning on your computer and you push the power button but it won’t start up and you realize oh my computers broken. Almost like coming out of a store and going to the place your bike was locked up, and not finding it there and realizing, some motherf-er stole it (for me, a bike, for you, might be your car)

And so it was. I went to the Manager’s counter and asked about my beloved Almonds In The Shell. Where they out of stock? Any idea when you might be getting more in? The Manager (Captain?) consults her computer screen and tells me the bad news. “I’m afraid they weren’t selling well. They were discontinued”

Gasp! Discontinued?!!! Not selling well?! I was buying them constantly. If I only knew, I would have bought a case.

I left the store, heart broken.

It wasn’t the first time.

Even worse, I knew, it won’t be the last either.

My unspoken rule for Trader Joe’s is “never fall in love”.

Its just too risky.

RANT

(published In Memoriam – Dry Roasted Salted Almonds In The Shell – 2013-2013)

“Out out brief candle!”

nuts2

DISCONTINUED: Trader Joe’s Rice Sticks (Boo Hiss!)


RANT

TJ’s Rice Sticks. I tried them once, and wrote a Rave post about them including a recipe. What happens next? Not a week later do I notice I don’t see them on the shelf anymore. At TJ’s, you know that feeling, uh-oh is this item going bye-bye? Sure enough I inquired at the front desk a week after that and the TJ’s manager looks them up on the computer. He tells me, “Sorry but the Rice Sticks have been discontinued’. Damn, damn, damn. Another fave gone bye-bye. Had I known, I would have purchased a dozen packs and squirreled them away for the future.

Discontinued and Trader Joe’s. Two words that seem to go hand and hand, huh?

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH (the TJ website)…

5. Why does TJ’s frequently discontinue products?

Our mission is to bring you the best quality products at the best prices. To do this, we have to manage our store space well. Each of our products must “stand on its own,” meaning it must pay its own way. Each product passes certain criteria in order to earn its way onto our shelves – including a rigorous tasting panel.

There may be several factors that determine why we discontinue products:

  • It may be a seasonal product – for example, strawberries, which are in season only specific times of the year.
  • The gang way factor – because we introduce 10-15 new products a week, we have to eliminate 10-15 items in order to give our newest items a fair chance.
  • The cost of producing the item may increase, which would in turn increase the cost to you – if the item is not a strong seller, we may choose to discontinue it.
(Whatever TJ’s. If I want THAI RICE STICKS in future, I will go back to getting them at Asian markets like I used to before I met you.)
POSTSCRIPT: Lots of comments on this item. Especially from Gluten-free diet folks…

Eureka Moment: TJ’s Discontinued Items are by Design!


Discontinued Items?
They are actually By Design:
Creating ‘Surprise and Discovery’!

Blogger Bill Flagg has some amazingly informative info about Trader Joe’s. Like this fascinating tidbit:

Changing 1/4 of the selection each year creates surprise and discovery (difficult to do when thousands of shoppers complain about their favorite products being discontinued)

Like we used to say, “its not a bug, its a feature”

So doesn’t this mean something like 1,000 products a year can vanish ?! Morale: Be careful about falling in love with something…

Check out Bill Flagg’s, “Lessons From Trader Joe’s”. Great read!  http://billflagg.blogspot.com/2011/05/lessons-from-trader-joes.html

FROM TRADER JOE WEBSITE…..

Why does TJ’s frequently discontinue products?

Our mission is to bring you the best quality products at the best prices. To do this, we have to manage our store space well. Each of our products must “stand on its own,” meaning it must pay its own way. Each product passes certain criteria in order to earn its way onto our shelves – including a rigorous tasting panel.

There may be several factors that determine why we discontinue products:

  • It may be a seasonal product – for example, strawberries, which are in season only specific times of the year.
  • The gang way factor – because we introduce 10-15 new products a week, we have to eliminate 10-15 items in order to give our newest items a fair chance.
  • The cost of producing the item may increase, which would in turn increase the cost to you – if the item is not a strong seller, we may choose to discontinue it.