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Bad news about beloved Trader Joe’s: The company “outsources inspiration for new products by targeting emerging brands under the guise of recruiting them to manufacture private-label items.” More like Pirate Joe’s, amirite?

Discussion  9 comments


I stopped shopping there when I saw individual apples and oranges wrapped in plastic. So much of what they sell is encased in unnecessary plastic and it just feels wasteful.

Troy Ober

As the story notes, you can't trademark recipes.

The story claims that Trader Joes copied the spelling of "achaar" with three As instead of the tradition two. If you seach the word "achaar" you'll see that its the Hindi word for pickle and "achar" is listed as an alternative spelling.

So what is special here, that the garlic is roasted instead of raw? Seriously?

There's absolutely no reason why Trader Joes should not sell its own version of foods.


Congrats on debunking the least problematic claim in the article. Now do the one where they solicit samples and recipe notes before undercutting the creators.

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Matt Jacobs

I think this is a good reminder that Trader Joe’s is still a for-profit business. I do not like that they are ripping off small businesses, but I also need to buy groceries and my hunch is they are less terrible than Kroger’s.

Lisa S.

It certainly sounds icky to read about, but I have to wonder if it’s not symbiotic in some cases. It’s easy for me to imagine that some people discover products through Trader Joe’s and then, after the product is dropped by Trader Joe’s, go on to look for a replacement (and in the process find the original product).

Obviously that’s not the case for stuff like TJ’s Oreo or Cheerio dupe…but every single store has their own “inspired by” version of these staples anyway.

Craig W

100%. I’ve been shopping at TJs for a few decades, when it was much smaller and localized mostly in Southern California. Product fade was not a thing before they became nationwide when scale for their ‘unique’ items was simpler. Now, it seems like the threshold for a product lasting is much higher.

They recently discontinued a hot sauce that became my fav, and I found the same bottle under the manufacturer’s name in a few restaurants and groceries.

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David H

You were so close, and you let it slip through your fingers.

Traitor Joe's.


That's a Giant, Major Ick/Ewww. So glad I never have been. No fondness to overcome, à la that whole "quirky retailer that people treat as if it's their BFF" thing humans do to anthropomorphize where they shop.

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