What You Should Consider Before Buying Produce At Trader Joe's

You might steer clear of the fruit and veg at Trader Joe's as the store does not have a good reputation for produce. That reputation has a long history. Five years ago, a Trader Joe's worker admitted on a Reddit AMA that even though they trust the vast majority of the products Trader Joe's sells, "[the fruits they sell] tend to get moldy pretty quickly in the summer."

Since then, the company has reduced plastic packaging for certain produce items and with that reduction, dropped their price. But the store has never managed to make the produce it sells a major selling point for the store.

One of the issues is how Trader Joe's prices its produce. Most stores and stalls charge you for the weight of the food you buy. Trader Joe's, as The Kitchn notes in a criticism of its produce section, charges you by the amount. In other words, if you are buying bananas, a small banana and a massive banana will cost the same. Some may see this as possible savings for bigger produce items. The Kitchn's writer, however, laments that they are penalized for preferring smaller-sized zucchini.

Trader Joe's has a reason for this

Now, such a different strategy for pricing produce cannot have occurred by accident. Moreover, it is unlikely that a company so connected to Aldi would not think through how it prices things.

Indeed, thought was given. In the "Produce" episode of the Trader Joe's podcast Inside Trader Joe's which aired in July 2019, Jack Salamon, Trader Joe's category manager of produce, related how one person thought that the store charged too much for apples. The issue was that buying by the pound sounds cheaper than by the product. In the end, however, it turned out that the apples from Trader Joe's were still a good buy.

The reason for the price strategy, Salamon continued, is that they want people to know how much they're spending before they reach the register. Yes, most stores have a scale to weigh the produce, but who really uses the scale to weigh out how many apples they'll buy? Really, most people think in terms of discrete amounts of produce, not the weight.