Why One Trader Joe's Once Gave Away All Of Its Frozen Food

Trader Joe's is known for its low prices, ranking 19% lower in price on average than other big grocery chains. With only Trader Joe's products in the store, the company doesn't have to worry about the rising prices of brand names.

TJ's customers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana were already shopping low prices, and didn't expect anything different until the store's freezers malfunctioned and everyone went home with free food.

One of the lucky customers posted a TikTok that shows an employee ringing up nearly $3,000 worth of frozen goods for the whole store. Another video shows customers lined up at the registers with carts and baskets filled to the brim with free frozen novelties.

Several commenters offer praise to the grocery chain, with others joking: "How does it feel to live my dream."

Though most of the commenters had positive reactions to Trader Joe's decision to give away the food, there were many that criticized the grocery chain for not putting a cap on how much customers could take for themselves. Some commenters went as far as to say these customers were "greedy" or "hoarding" for stocking up on the food.

Trader Joe's generosity

Rather than selling the food or tossing it in the dumpster, which other big grocery names might have done, the chain decided to not charge customers during a time when most of the country is living paycheck to paycheck. As of March 2023, grocery prices inflated by over 8.5% from the same time last year. Between people struggling financially and rising food costs, Trader Joe's has somehow been able keep prices low. In fact, prices dropped 1.2% in 2022.


Random trip to Trader Joe’s turned into a blessing 😇

♬ original sound – Pyxis Princess

Though customers were very thankful for this display of generosity, the chain received backlash for not immediately considering local food banks or charities in need. Many commenters claim the company will just "use this as a tax write-off" while others say "they should donate to homeless shelters." One TikToker said Trader Joe's tried to donate to local organizations, but they were all closed when the fridges and freezers went out.

While this particular Trader Joe's didn't donate to shelters right away, the grocery chain is known for being incredibly generous to local non-profits. The company's Neighborhood Shares program donates 100% of unsold products that are safe to eat to local organizations and food banks. In 2020 alone, Trader Joe's donated roughly $349 million worth of food to local communities, which is about 63 million meals. So, in reality, Trader Joe's performs these acts of kindness year round, just behind the scenes.