As it turns out, Trader Joe’s has a multifaceted take on supply and demand.

By Mike Pomranz
March 29, 2019
Melissa Renwick/Getty Images

Thanks to its quirky products and customs, Trader Joe’s is often referred to as a “cult favorite” grocery chain. It certainly seems to have more dedicated customers than standard grocers. (Remember the guy who opened one on his own in Canada?) As a result, diehard fans are probably more likely to have questions about what makes their favorite store tick — and a few days ago, they had the chance to have them answered: A self-professed employee at “the largest Trader Joe’s in America” did an impromptu AMA (a chance to “ask me anything”) on the Trader Joe’s section of Reddit.

About 30 questions were posed, so if you count yourself among the chain’s most inquisitive shoppers, you may want to pop over to the tread and read it for yourself. But the most common line of questioning was why products were so commonly out of stock — in the short-term, in the long-term, or permanently.

The reason given for the occasional short-term gap in supply is actually quite redeeming. “If you’re asking why we run out sometimes, that has to do with ordering and warehouse,” the purported employee, Reddit user Semblanceofafeeling, writes. “In order to prevent food waste, we order in a system called ‘truck to shelf,’ which is what it sounds like. We don’t want to order too much. Sometimes we end up with too little. But for us, that’s better, because it’s less waste. It helps keep prices down.”

Meanwhile, as for the why items sometimes disappear for longer stints of time, Semblanceofafeeling’s answer is a bit more devious. “Now, if you’re asking about seasonal items and discontinuation, that has a lot to do with driving sales and trying to keep things fresh,” the user states. “We don’t do sales (we can’t, our prices are already too low) and we don’t advertise. So seasonal and special items keep people coming back.” Though Semblanceofafeeling also explains that sometimes a product disappears simply because not enough people like it or the producer changed something, be it the recipe or the price.

However, the AMA does include one bit of good news for those craving Trader Joe’s products of yore: A number of times Semblanceofafeeling suggested that if you aren’t seeing what you want, for any reason, you should “[f]eel free to email corporate or call your local store,” later adding, “We’re all about supply and demand here.” Seriously. If you want your black bean taquitos back, stop wasting time on the internet and go out and make it happen!

If that's not enough insider information about Trader Joe's, the brand also started a podcast which dishes out interesting tidbits from behind the scenes.

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