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Where Does the Food at Trader Joe's Come From?

The biggest food mystery of all, solved
Where Does Trader Joe's Food Come From?
Photo: Mike Mozart via Flickr

Like a late-night run to Taco Bell, there's a universal, unexplainable love for Trader Joe's that's strong enough to make us cry. But as you weave your way around crowded aisles, grabbing a jar of speculoos, a tub of hummus and yet another box of crispy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies (don't act like you don't know what those are), have you ever wondered where TJ's actually sources all of those self-branded products?

While the cult-favorite grocery store continues to stay as tightly sealed as its bags of tortilla chips on the matter, Eater takes a deep dive into the the chain's private-label products to see where everything in your red grocery basket actually comes from. 

The answer? According to the investigation, despite Trader Joe's lower prices, most of its branded products are made by the same big-name labels you'd find at competing supermarkets. By sifting through recall documents and comparing ingredient lists, Eater finds that, for example, TJ's pita chips are essentially identical to Stacy's Pita Chips and that the people behind Tribe Hummus have—in the past, at least—produced the very hummus we swipe Trader Joe's-branded baby carrots through during our office lunch breaks. (The piece also notes that big-name brands might change the recipe somewhat for private labels, accounting for any differences in taste despite the eerily similar ingredients.) 

 

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Eater further mentions that Trader Joe's also sources some of its food through exclusive, smaller manufacturers you or I have never heard of, resulting in snacks and goodies you won't find in the cold, soulless aisles of your nearest mega mart.

Even if you couldn't care less about anything you just read, you can still rest assured your blind TJ's devotion is very well justified: In Eater's taste test, most participants preferred Trader Joe's products over the competition.

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