The Rigorous Approval Process Trader Joe's Products Go Through

A cult favorite supermarket, Trader Joe's is known for its innovative line of food products. There are whole forums, blogs, and social media accounts dedicated to reviewing their never-ending list of products. With their product line changing constantly and new items being added to shelves, one has to wonder, "What's happening behind the scenes?"

The shelves are filled with in-house branded products as well as the company's own creations, but these items aren't chosen lightly. According to The New York Times, the supermarket has become very secretive in order to safeguard its house-branded products. While there are many steps to approve what fills the shelves, Doug Rauch, the president of Trader Joe's told NYT that a tasting panel is responsible for their products not only being good, but becoming addictive. Although the products need to pass steps before hitting the tasting team, it seems like this tasting panel has a major effect on the success of the stores.

Every detail is analyzed

"Category leaders" at Trader Joe's spend their workday traveling all over the world meeting with everyone from farmers to street vendors to find ideas or products for their stores, per The New York Times. These ideas then get shared with chefs who work endlessly on versions that can be mass-produced. One would assume this hard work and deduction would be enough, but no. These products have to go through the tasting panel first. Being a Trader Joe's taster sounds like a dream job to us! Imagine waking up every day, going into a test kitchen, and trying potential Trader Joe's products. Yes, please — where can we sign up?

While the company kept its test kitchen quite secretive for a long time, some executives have opened up during Episode 28 of the company's podcast, known as "Inside Trader Joe's," about the tasting panel. The tasting kitchen is described as a "harsh environment," so no vendors or suppliers are allowed to be present to weigh in on the decisions made. The customer remains the focus (via CNBC). The tasting panel spends a lot of time discussing little details about each product — which can take a long time to move the items forward. It's proven to be a successful way to grow the company though. The company is serious when it says absolutely everything is tasted. According to the podcast, even the taster's furry friends try out the dog treats.