Posts Tagged “Trader Joe’s”
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.
A Market Force study of 7,200 shoppers conducted online in April ranked the Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s first, the Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets Inc., second and the Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi Inc., third, according to a Trader Joe’s news release.
The survey studied consumers’ grocery shopping habits and preferences, rating Trader Joe’s at 78% in consumer satisfaction and Publix at 74%.
Rounding out the top fiver were Aldi, Hy-Vee Food Stores Inc., West Des Moines, Iowa, and H.E.B., San Antonio. Among the top brands were Boise, Idaho-based Albertson’s and WinCo Foods and Bentonville, Ark.-based Sam’s Club who made this year’s list after failing to garner enough mentions in 2014, according to the release.
Publix and Trader Joe’s led in many areas, including cashier courtesy, fast checkouts and cleanliness, while Aldi, WinCo and Costco Wholesale Corp., Issaquah, Wash., took the top spots in the value category.
Shop-Rite Supermarkets, Edison, N.J., scored highest for sales and promotions while H.E.B, Hy-Vee and Kroger Co., Cincinnati, performed well in most areas.
Other study findings: nearly half prefer to buy organic products, 28% are buying prepared foods at least weekly, up 10% from 2014 and 39% have used a grocery app, primarily for coupons.
Louisville, Colo.-based Market Force is a global customer intelligence company that provides information for retailers, restaurants, financial institutions, entertainment studios and consumer packaged goods companies.
In Consumer Reports’ new supermarket survey, Wegmans, Publix and Trader Joe’s remain at the top of the ratings of 68 of stores nationwide. Also earning high overall satisfaction scores were Fareway Stores, Market Basket (Northeast), Costco and Raley’s. Once again Walmart Supercenter landed at the bottom, along with A&P and Waldbaums, two smaller regional chains.
“Once upon a time, low prices, checkout speed and variety were attributes that mattered most to supermarket shoppers,” Tod Marks, senior project editor at Consumer Reports, said in a press release. “While these aspects are still critical, more and more consumers demand better fresh foods, more organics and a greater variety of locally made and grown foods.”
Many Americans believe that good health starts with a good diet. As a result, consumers have become increasingly savvy label readers, wary of preservatives, chemicals and unpronounceable ingredients and the demand for minimally processed foods and shorter ingredients lists has risen significantly. And supermarkets are taking seriously their new role in the health of their customers. Consumer Reports found that 95 percent of chains have a registered dietician on staff to assist with merchandising and marketing decisions. And, more than 75 percent of stores say they carry more locally grown or made goods than they did in 2012.
The report, “America’s Best, Freshest Supermarkets,” which includes the complete Ratings of grocery stores, is available in the May 2015 issue of Consumer Reports and at www.ConsumerReports.org. The feature also decodes common terms such as “fresh,” “natural” and more.
Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed 62,917 subscribers about overall satisfaction with their supermarket shopping experiences based on 111,208 visits between March 2013 and July 2014. The top-rated supermarkets also received high scores for overall freshness — quality of produce, meats, poultry, bakery items and store-prepared foods as well as store quality, which included scores for staff courtesy and store cleanliness. Walmart Supercenter, consistently one of Consumer Reports’ lowest-rated grocers since 2005, earned low marks in every category other than price.
In addition to traditional characteristics such as service and cleanliness, Consumer Reports asked subscribers to rate their grocers on the selection of local produce and the price of organics at their stores. Only around six in 10 were completely or very satisfied with the quality of their store’s produce, meat, and poultry offerings, according to Consumer Reports’ survey.
Just three of the chains — Wegmans and national chains The Fresh Market and Whole Foods — earned stellar produce scores. Seventeen were below average. Eighteen retailers received low scores for produce variety, notably two big warehouse clubs — Sam’s Club (part of Walmart) and BJ’s Wholesale Club (in the East) — as well as Target and Target Supercenters.
Consumer Reports also asked subscribers about the prices of organic options available at their stores: Trader Joe’s, Wegmans, Costco, and Sprouts Farmers Market received high marks. And, to determine the real-world price differences, Consumer Reports conducted a study by shopping for 15 similar organic and conventional goods, including bananas, milk, and chicken, at eight national, regional and online grocers. The organic items cost 47 percent more, on average, although in some cases, some of the organic versions cost the same or less than the conventional ones. For example, organic Grade A maple syrup cost 11 percent less than the conventional version at Price Chopper.
Doug Rauch, former president of Trader Joe’s, is introducing Daily Table, a new perishable foods project aimed at tackling the overwhelming problem of food waste. He is determined to repackage perfectly edible produce just past its sell-by date that ends up in the trash.
“Most of what we offer will be fruits and vegetables that have a use-by date on it that’ll be several days out,” says Rauch. Daily Table will open in early 2014 in Dorchester, MA preparing and repackaging food at deeply discounted prices.
The idea behind the project is to bring affordable nutrition to the underserved living in the inner-cities of America. Rauch suggests the format is a hybrid between a grocery store and a restaurant, primarily taking this repackaged food, prepping it, and cooking it for what he calls “speed-scratch cooking.”
This is in an attempt to offer this food at prices that compete with fast food. Despite the fact that the food is past its sell date, Rauch ensures the products are absolutely safe to eat.
“This is about trying to tackle a very large social challenge we have that is going to create a health care tsunami in cost if we don’t do something about it,” says Rauch. “I don’t regard Daily Table as the only solution – there are wonderful innovative ideas out there – but I certainly think it is part of and is an innovative approach to trying to find our way to a solution.”