Why Trader Joe's Discontinues Some Of It Most Popular Products

Trader Joes has seen many of its private label products come and go from its shelves throughout the years. For better or worse, there are many discontinued Trader Joe's products we're probably never getting back. Some go without any shoppers noticing, and others create a wave of backlash when they vanish from all the stores. 

When a product is simply not capturing the interest of shoppers over an extended period, it makes sense that the company would decide that product is not worth the shelf space. However, if a product is popular among shoppers, it is especially puzzling when that product suddenly disappears.

Trader Joe's maintains a strategic marketing mindset about the products it releases, continues to sell, and decides to discontinue. Unfortunately for the fans of discontinued popular products, there is more that goes into the company's decision to pull them from shelves than how successfully they sell.

Even the popular products are not safe

One of the top priorities of Trader Joe's is maintaining high-quality products at low prices. Its low costs is one of the reasons some argue Trader Joe's is better than Whole Foods. So, when a product becomes expensive to produce at quality standards, the company has two options: raise the price of the product to account for the rising production cost, or pull the product from shelves. Sometimes, when the company realizes just how high the price would have to be, it goes with the second option. At the end of the day, Trader Joe's would rather take away a beloved product than taint the value of their products to keep costs low.

Alternatively (and perhaps counterintuitively), sometimes a product's popularity is what sends it out of stock indefinitely. If the demand for a product is too high, the supplier may not be able to keep up. In this case, a product is more likely to come back eventually, but only after supply chain kinks get worked out.

Furthermore, one of the trademark qualities of Trader Joe's is the novelty of its products. The prospect of a tasty, innovative item hitting shelves is part of the reason Trader Joe's customers keep coming back for more. Each location is "small and intimate," as President of Stores, Jon Basalone described on the company podcast, meaning that there is only so much space for products. Inevitably, older items will have to leave shelves to make room for the newer ones.

There is always something new on the Trader Joe's horizon

Devotees of discontinued products still may have some hope for their return. Trader Joe's has a small, but existent nonetheless, track record of discontinued products that came back, even if only for a limited time. Pretzel Bagels, for instance, returned to shelves in 2021 after being discontinued. However, as of 2024 they are nowhere to be found in stores.

The Trader Joe's website offers a slight glimmer of hope too, giving customers the chance to fill out a form requesting the return of a product. "We make no guarantees," the webpage warns, "but we do take customer requests into account when we develop new products or revisit old favorites." Even if a customer never sees the day their favorite food item hits the shelves again, there is never a shortage of new Trader Joe's products to try, like the long overdue new Everything but the Bagel Cheese. It is like the Trader Joe's version of the circle of life.