The Downside of New Product Additions at Trader Joe’s

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

The number of new product introductions at Trader Joe’s is so high, it can be downright dizzying. In fact, we’ve written about how you really should go online to learn about these new products before you even step foot in the store (see: If You’re Not Doing This Before a Trip to Trader Joe’s, You’re Doing Your Shopping All Wrong!).

Just in the last few days, we’ve seen a new salad topper mix, jars of giardiniera, and cauliflower gnocchi. It’s aways super fun to see new products in the stores, try them out, and update our mental list of favorite products. What could there possibly be to complain about?

Well, Matt Sloan, the vice president of marketing product at Trader Joe’s, just gave us one kinda big thing!

See, there’s a new podcast called Inside Trader Joe’s. It’s hosted by Sloan and the company’s Marketing Director, Tara Miller. If you haven’t listened to it, you really should. It’s a five-part series and each episode is less than 25 minutes, so it’s not a huge time commitment — plus, it’s full of super-interesting facts and stories!

The second episode, which is actually the longest at a little more than 23 minutes, tells listeners how new products are picked and put on the shelves. There’s a very top-secret Tasting Panel of crew members who work in a harsh environment of fluorescent lighting and white countertops, and without any cheeky inspirational posters. “There’s nothing in there that makes it comfortable,” says Sloan. “It’s like a Cold War interrogation booth, because we want the products that succeed to go through this ultra Darwinian exercise to say that they could stand up even to that harshest light of critical evaluation.”

That’s fun! Here comes the un-fun thing: “Every time we bring something new in, we’ve got to get rid of a thing or two to make some space,” Sloan explains.

That means it’s very possible that your favorite smoked trout could be discontinued. Actually, that’s something our Food Director lives in total fear of.

It makes sense, though. Estimates put the average Trader Joe’s store at 10,000 to 15,000 square feet. And even small bottles of everything bagel seasoning start to add up. So it’s a literal give and take. Sometimes that’s a good thing (if you become totally obsessed with an addition) but it can also be a bad thing (if your favorite must-have item goes to ingredient heaven).

Tell us about your favorite discontinued item or your favorite new addition.