Sunday, February 19, 2017

Special post: supplier found (probably)

As I've mentioned many times, I watch Twitter for the #TraderJoes hashtag. It's how I often learn of new products to try, and it's how I get the "best tweets of the week" feature for Saturday "roundup" posts.

A while back I started noticing an unusual number of posts saying that TJ's portobello mushroom fries were great. I'm not interested in this product, and the posts weren't especially clever, so I thought it was odd, but didn't pay much attention.

But it kept happening. So I decided to try to see whether all of these were coming from one account.

They were.

And so on. I counted 27 such tweets--basically one a day--since the phenomenon began in late January.

Now why would a food manufacturer go on a miniblitz promoting a Trader Joe's product? Can you think of any plausible reason other than that they are the manufacturer?

The TJ's portobello mushroom fries package says that it's a product of India. Would you like to guess where Himalayo Fresh has its manufacturing plant?

Going through the pains of being pioneers in Indian Food Industry, struggling through the natural impediments in emerging market and despite the world-wide economic gloom in 2009 they decided to take a quantum leap forward by setting up the large, diversified and integrated food processing plant in the state of Gujarat India. The new mega plant in full operation will make Himalya as the India's largest Premium frozen food Company.
(See here.)

Interestingly, there was one tweet from that same account promoting TJ's Vegetable Pakoras (reviewed here):

So I suspect that we've found the manufacturer for not just one but two TJ's products.

Incidentally, this is the second time that I've been able to make a reasonably solid determination of a TJ's supplier based on Twitter. See here for the first. This seems to be a tiny leak in what is usually a solid brick wall of secrecy, with neither TJ's nor their suppliers saying a word about their business relationships.

Sometimes you can identify a supplier by the suspicious similarity between a national-brand product and one sold by TJ's, such as the macaroni and cheese we investigated here. Sometimes you can tell because TJ's stores carry a non-TJ's-branded item, which then disappears and is replaced by an identical one with a new TJ's label, such as with several jams and preserves from E.D. Smith. Sometimes the information gets out when there is a manufacturer's product recall, and a bunch of store brands--including TJ's--all get named in the recall, such as last year's massive recall of frozen vegetables. This involved more than 350 products sold under 42 different brand names, but all coming from one manufacturer in Pasco, Washington.

But using Twitter to identify a TJ's supplier appears to be my own peculiar little innovation.

I replied to one of the tweets in this series asking if they were promoting TJ's products because they're the manufacturer.

There has been no response.


  1. I'm totally impressed with your investigative work here!! Although i have to say i'm kind of surprised the portabello fries come from india... they are actually quite tasty, just haveto bake them a good bit longer than the instructions

  2. We were told here's ago that the organic milk was stonyfield....not sure if it still is or ever was, but they used to tell us to use the plant number to tell.

  3. hahaha, this is funny. sneaky too. I would not have bought them any way. I don't like portabello mushrooms.