By Nikki Tran, SFGate
Buying produce at Trader Joe’s is about to get cheaper thanks to the elimination of plastic packaging on certain fruits, veggies, and other food staples.
In a new episodee of “Inside Trader Joe’s,” a podcast created by the grocery chain, hosts Matt Sloan and Tara Miller sat down with produce category manager Jack Salamon to unpack how Trader Joe’s plans to reduce packaging on certain products — which means lower prices for customers.
In the interview, Salamon explained how items like potatoes, onions, and apples can be sold as loose products, but were often bagged or bundled together in plastic containers. Now, the store will feature more loose produce.
How does this translate to cheaper prices? Salamon used fresh garlic as an example. Previously, garlic was sold in a pouch. The price a customer paid for garlic included not only the cost of the produce itself, but also costs associated with making the plastic sleeve, bundling the garlic together, and then topping the bag off with a paper header. The packaged garlic fetched $1.39 for two heads. Now, with those extra, hidden expenses removed, loose garlic goes for 49 cents apiece.
In cases where it is difficult to sell items without packaging, like blueberries, the company is trying out different strategies to reduce its plastic waste, such as thinner, biodegradable, and compostable materials. “We are on track to eliminate 4 million pounds of plastic from our stores in 2019 and 2½ million pounds of that plastic has come directly out of the produce section,” said Salamon.