10 Things You Didn't Know About Trader Joe's Products

If you've ever shopped at Trader Joe's, you probably know how different it is from just about every other supermarket on earth. The walls are colorfully painted, the employees are wearing Hawaiian shirts, and most importantly, most of the products don't resemble any that you've ever seen before. Here are 10 facts about the food items that stock the shelves at Trader Joe's.

Compared to Regular Grocery Stores, It Stocks a Shockingly Small Number of Products

The average supermarket carries up to a whopping 50,000 items. If the inventory at your local Trader Joe's seems a little more manageable than that at your local Stop & Shop, that's because the average TJ's only keeps about 4,000 products in stock. 

You Can Get Free Samples of Anything in the Store

Even though you'll never encounter a Trader Joe's that's not handing out free samples of some sort, if you want to try something specific, just ask an employee and they'll most likely open it up for you to have a taste right then and there. 

80 to 90 Percent of Products Sold Are Store-Brand

This helps keep prices down, and also allows the company to have more control over the quality of its products. Pantry items like bread, butter, olive oil, peanut butter, condiments, and rice will be a lot less expensive here than at your local supermarket. 

It Only Buys From Manufacturers or Growers, Not Distributors or Middlemen

In order to keep prices down, Trader Joe's dispenses with convention and completely cuts out middlemen (usually distributors) between its stores and the food companies. This means that it has relationships with every manufacturer and grower who provides food products for it.  

It Was a Pioneer in the Non-GMO Movement

Trader Joe's began sourcing food and drink products that are from non-GMO sources way back in 2001, when most people hadn't even heard of the term. While it is unable to promise that all animal products are made with animals raised on non-GMO feed, all other private label foods it sells are non-GMO, and any suspect items are audited by third-party labs. 

It Sells Eggs That Might Hatch

Trader Joe's sells a wide variety of eggs, from omega-3 enriched to free-range and cage-free, but none may be more interesting than the ones labeled "Fertile." These eggs "are laid by hens in contact with roosters," according to the company's website, and if you put them in an incubator, there's a chance that they might hatch! 

You Can Become a Vendor

If you have a product that you think might be a food fit to come under the Trader Joe's private label umbrella, you can fill out this form. Just know that the company's criteria for what makes it onto its shelves is incredibly strict!

New Products Are Introduced Every Week

New products are introduced every week, and that means that if a product isn't selling well, it's going to be on the chopping block. Other reasons why a product might disappear are if it's a seasonal item or if the cost of producing the item increases to a point where it's no longer a good deal. To stay on top of what's coming and going, sign up to receive the Fearless Flyer.

The Product Selection Varies From State to State

Because the company tries to source its fresh products from as close to each store as possible, many freshly-prepared items, including deli and bakery products, juices, and dairy, will vary from state to state and even from store to store. State laws, taxes, deposits, and distribution costs can also vary from state to state, making some products too expensive to stock everywhere. "No matter what the dollar differences are, we won't sell an item in any region or state, if it really isn't a value," the company states.

No Items Are Ever Put on Sale

"'Sale' is a four-letter word to us," the company says. "We have low prices, every day. NO coupons. NO membership cards. NO discounts. NO glitzy promotions or couponing wars at our stores. We offer the best everyday values, every day."