The Popular Brand Behind Trader Joe's Smoothies

Trader Joe's branded products are just as much a part of the shopping experience at the retailer as the bell ringing and free food samples are. Over 80% of the items sold in TJ's are branded under their private label. If you've ever tried their smoothies, you may have noticed a similarity in taste to another major smoothie producer, and they could be more alike than you assume. But if you think Trader Joe's proper is behind the production of these unique goods, think again.

Thankfully for the rest of us, internet sleuths have gained insight into who produces the chain's unique smoothies. By following product recalls, which display the name of the parent company involved in the recall, people have been able to deduce which company makes — or at least has made at one time — Trader Joe's branded smoothies. 

According to a 2008 food recall, the FDA listed Naked Juice, a PepsiCo subsidiary, as the company that supplied TJ's with its protein fruit smoothies. You may not be shocked to see this if you have ever looked at the two side-by-side, but you might not know that the ingredients listed on the two products are identical in some cases.

How similar are TJ's smoothies to Naked Juice?

Aside from details related to the recall, the USDA database contains information and nutritional facts about products sold in supermarkets. Using these as a basis for comparison, some have discovered that ingredients in TJ's smoothies match or nearly match bottled drinks sold under the Naked Juice label. For example, Trader Joe's mango smoothie has the exact same ingredients as Naked Juice's Mighty Mango drink. The Trader Joe's version of Naked Juice's Green Machine smoothie is nearly identical, except for no kale or algae protein and less banana puree, but the grocery chain's version is not listed for sale anymore, joining the growing roster of discontinued Trader Joe's products

Manufacturers of major food brands often partner with Trader Joe's to create merchandise the retailer can sell under their private label. It gives the store a way to sell an item to customers who might like the product but aren't impressed with brand name labels. Some of these food manufacturers have exclusive deals with Trader Joe's, meaning they only make unique versions of their products specifically for their labels. However, the relationship Trader Joe's has with these distributors is one they don't typically air, as the grocer wants to maintain the integrity and coherence of its own brand identity. 

Trader Joe's also outsources other branded items

By utilizing the same approach of checking recalls and comparing listed ingredients, it's easy to discover Naked Juice isn't the only well-known business supplying Trader Joe's with its signature merchandise. TJ's Pita Chips with Sea Salt are incredibly similar to Stacy's Simply Naked pita chips, and the listed ingredients for these products are the same. Stacy's is owned by Frito-Lay Inc., a subsidiary of, again, PepsiCo. The animal crackers sold by Trader Joe's are produced by the company that makes the original, iconic animal cracker, Stauffer's. The ingredients match up, except more lemon flavor is added to the TJ's recipe.

Leaning on the operations of established manufacturers, Trader Joe's has been able to stock its shelves with unique items tailored specifically to their brand without being responsible for the production demands. It accents the matchless customer experience of shopping at TJ's, where (at least the name of) brand commodities are few and far between. This frees the company up to focus more on bringing in items customers will clamor for, which continues to be a winning strategy.