The list of reasons we — and many, many others — love Trader Joe’s runs long, from pantry staples one can only find at TJ’s, like Everything But the Bagel seasoning, to the grocery store’s constant launch of new products. But the one, and likely only drawback of Trader Joe’s has to be the fleeting shelf life and inconsistent availability of certain, beloved products. And thanks to a New York-based Trader Joe’s employee’s impromptu Reddit AMA (“ask me anything”), we finally have an answer as to why products sometimes run out, be it temporarily or permanently.
In the AMA, Reddit user Semblanceofafeeling, who has worked at four different Trader Joe’s stores over the past three years, revealed interesting insight about Trader Joe’s, including where the flowers go if they aren’t sold by the end of the day.
“Flowers come in daily from our local supplier florists and we try our best to tend to them and keep them fresh,” Semblanceofafeeling writes. “Ones that don’t sell are donated to pantries, nursing homes, etc.”
But the most common question, hands down, had to do with why certain products were commonly out of stock. According to the employee, it might have something to do with TJ’s “truck to shelf” ordering system, which Semblanceofafeeling says is Trader Joe’s way of preventing food waste.
“We don’t want to order too much,” the user writes. “Sometimes we end up with too little, but for us, that’s better, because it’s less waste. It helps keep prices down.”
Warehouse issues could arise, too.
“That could be that they sent us the wrong thing, or too little, or that they’re out too,” Semblanceofafeeling says. “The warehouses usually supply anywhere from five to 10 stores in the region. If one store orders too much, that could leave another store with too little.”
The third reason for a missing product is quality assurance and production delay.
“If something is QA’d, it’s because there’s an issue with the product, like an allergen contamination. If our producers or growers can’t grow enough lemons in time, that could leave us with a shortage of lemons,” Semblanceofafeeling explains. “Last year, we had a few months when we kept running out of lemons because our growers couldn’t grow enough. It was too cold in the south and too warm in the north.”
If a product is discontinued or it’s a seasonal item that likely won’t return, Semblanceofafeeling says shoppers can and should let Trader Joe’s know.
“It depends on demand! The more you email and ask managers, were more likely to bring stuff back,” the employee says.
BRB, drafting up an email to Trader Joe’s…
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