Trader Joe’s inspires a cult-like following of fans of this unique and charming grocery store concept. But, did you know that not all of their cool products are original or even manufactured by the company? In fact, most of their items are created by third-party manufacturers, and knowledge about this practice is guarded heavily so everything can stay branded under the TJ moniker. Since company executives are notoriously tight-lipped about TJ suppliers, details have to be gleaned in other ways since they’re never revealed in interviews or willingly. Luckily, when the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recalls occur, it shed some light on the relationships between Trader Joe’s and various manufacturers. We’ve used that information plus comparing ingredients lists to reveal some previously unknown information about where TJ products really come from. Read on for our list of products that are not original to Trader Joe’s and what that means for your favorite items.
Sneaky Trader Joe’s Products
The TJ-branded dry roasted and unsalted pistachios are actually made by the company responsible for Wonderful Pistachios. Wonderful Pistachios manufacturers three varieties of the little green nut for special use in Trader Joe’s stores. Those types include the classic dry roasted and unsalted, salt and pepper pistachios, and dry roasted and salted pistachios.
2. Organic Sweet Corn
It’s been revealed, through a 2016 product recall, that food industry giant ConAgra was responsible for the Trader Joe’s Organic Sweet Corn product. It’s likely that they collaborate on more than just this one specialty item too. That would be a natural conclusion for such a large company that would have the capability to produce a ton of other products for Trader Joe’s. But no other TJ private label products can be irrefutably linked to ConAgra at this time.
3. Pita Chips
If Trader Joe’s pita chips taste a lot like Stacy’s classic pita chips, there’s good reason; they are created by the same company. In fact, the ingredients in TJ private label pita chips are exactly the same as those in Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips.
4. Mango Smoothie
Naked Juice company, a subsidiary of Pepsi, is responsible for the Trader Joe’s mango smoothie as well as their green juice smoothie. In fact, the ingredients in Naked’s popular “Mighty Mango” drink are exactly the same as TJ’s version. Also, a 2008 recall links the two companies since manufacturing information is shared when food is recalled. In this case, it was a recall involving yeast and lactic acid bacteria.
5. Animal Crackers
Next on our list of TJ products made from outside manufacturers is their organic animal crackers. These little treats actually have the same ingredients and shapes as Stauffer’s organic animal crackers. Stauffer’s original animal crackers only differ slightly because they do not include lemon.
A 2015 recall of Trader Joe’s hummus revealed an interesting truth: that the company Tribe was the creator and manufacturer of TJ hummus. In this case, the product in question was tahini-free hummus. Tahini is a creamy sesame seed paste, and this product may have accidentally contained sesame seeds, so it was recalled.
7. Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies are suspiciously almost identical to Tate’s Bake Shop cookies. They share nearly the same taste, packaging, and ingredients for their in-house private label with the outside company Tate’s.
8. Pretzel Crisps
Snack Factory pretzel crisps are almost exactly the same as Trader Joe’s pretzel slims with similar ingredients. And even more telling? The dark chocolate-covered varieties share an identical list of ingredients. This is most certainly not a coincidence.
9. La Boulangerie Items
Despite a lack of acknowledgement on packing, San Francisco based bakery La Boulangerie is a regular supplier to Trader Joe’s. Currently, they provide seven certified organic products to the grocer including cranberry twists especially for the holidays.
So overall, we’ve covered some popular items that appear to be produced by Trader Joe’s but are in fact from outside manufacturers. These private label goodies are still tasty and at a great price point plus come with cute packaging. But just keep this in mind when shopping, because you likely don’t need to travel to your local TJ store to get the exact same products with the same or nearly identical ingredients.