Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Trader Joe's Organic Eggs

We're doing a whole week of reviews of Trader Joe's dairy products. Here's Day 4: 

I saved eggs for the last of my three posts on pricing of organic dairy products, because they're trickier than butter and milk. The problem is one of category overlap. You can buy organic eggs. And you can buy eggs that are "cage free" and/or "free range." But you can also buy eggs that fit both categories, as in the Trader Joe's sample pictured above. To make things more complicated, you can get different sizes of eggs, at different prices.

And to make it even more complicated than that, I found that some eggs not labeled as "organic" still carry the claim to have been raised free of antibiotics, which, as I've explained, is my primary motivation for going with organics for meat and dairy products when it's feasible to do so.

So let's start with the ones explicitly labeled as organically sourced. All prices are for one dozen eggs. Where these products are also labeled as "cage free," I'll note that. All are for one dozen, in sizes large, extra large, or jumbo.

Trader Joe's          $4.39 (large eggs, cage free); $4.59 (extra large, cage free)

Ingles                    $4.88 (Eggland's Best)
                              $4.68 (Pete & Gerry's)
                              $4.48 (Harvest Farms)
                              $5.28 (Horizon Organic)

Sav-Mor Foods     not available

Harris Teeter         $4.99 (Eggland's Best)
                              $3.99 (Harris Teeter)
                              $6.49 (Horizon Organic, cage free)

Fresh Market         $4.49 (Fresh Market, cage free)

Whole Foods         $4.99 (Whole Foods, cage free)

Wal-Mart               $4.48 (Wal-Mart Great Value, cage free)
                               $4.68 (Great Day)

Earth Fare              $4.78 (Earth Fare)
                               $5.69 (Organic Valley, cage free)
                               $7.69 (Vital Farms, cage free)

Publix                    $4.19 (Eggland's Best, cage free)
                              $6.49 (Organic Valley, cage free)
                              $4.49 (Publix)

Now I'll list those that are not officially "organic," but which carry labels claiming them to be either "cage free" or "free range" AND claiming to be from hens not treated with antibiotics. 

Trader Joe's          $3.19 (large), $3.49 (extra large)

Ingles                    $3.88 (Nellie's)
                              $4.88 (Happy Egg)

Sav-Mor Foods     $3.38 (Eggland's Best)

Harris Teeter         $2.99 (Natural Nest)
                              $4.19 (Land O Lakes)

Fresh Market         $3.99 (Farside Farms)

Whole Foods         $4.19 (Latta's Egg Ranch)
                               $2.99 (Whole Foods)
                               $4.39 (Nest Fresh)

Wal-Mart               $3.86 (Wandering Hen)

Earth Fare              $3.68 (Earth Fare)

Publix                    $3.65 (4 Grain)

Conclusions: If you want genuinely "organic," Trader Joe's eggs are almost as cheap as you can get, with the exception of the Harris Teeter store brand (though those are not labeled as "cage free," if that matters to you). If you're willing to forego the official "organic" designation, but still want your eggs to come from cage-free and antibiotic-free hens, then again Trader Joe's is one of the best buys, though slightly undercut in price by the Whole Foods store brand and by Natural Nest at Harris Teeter.

Considering all three products together (butter, milk, and eggs), Trader Joe's offerings are highly competitive. In fact, if you wanted to buy one unit of the least expensive brand of each of these three products in one stop, TJ's would be the cheapest place to do so: $13.67, compared to $13.84 for Wal-Mart, $13.97 for Whole Foods, $14.68 for Publix, $14.74 for Earth Fare, and $14.94 for Ingles.

Addendum, January 25, 2016 

Here's an excellent explanation of the various egg labels (cage-free, organic, etc.):

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