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Trader Joe’s customers pick their favorite produce, and the results are kind of … meh  

trader joe's favorite produce items
Four TJ’s produce products including: Teeny Tiny Avocados, Brussels Sprouts, Organic Carrots of Many Colors, and Honeycrisp Apples

It’s time for the Trader Joe’s Customer Choice Awards, an annual list of what the Monrovia, CA-based retailer’s BB #:162286 shoppers just can’t live without.  

I’ve been watching this list since its inception, and every year the produce consumers pick is kind underwhelming when you think of what Trader Joe’s is known for: uniqueness, innovation, flavor, variety, and trendiness.  

Bananas were, again, the No. 1 item customers answered: “If you were to spend the rest of your life on a deserted island, which nine Trader Joe’s products would you take with you?”  

Out of everything cool they have in produce, shoppers picked bananas? No disrespect to bananas, but c’mon. Isn’t there anything else that really knocks your socks off?  

The full list included:  

  1. Teeny Tiny Avocados 
  1. Honeycrisp Apples 
  1. Brussels Sprouts 
  1. Organic Carrots of Many Colors 

I will acknowledge that none of these items is the standard fare in their categories. Multi-colored carrots are slightly inspiring, but what about the massive wall of flavors and product development that is the refrigerated case? Is Trader Joe’s wasting its time with all of these kits, cuts, and value-added produce items?  

This seems like a pretty big message customers are sending to not pick a single bagged salad flavor. Arugula used to feature prominently in this list, but it’s conspicuously missing this year.  

Other winners feature international flavors like Chicken Tikka Masala, Chocolate Croissants, Chicken Soup Steam Dumplings, and Elote Corn Chip Dippers.  

I know Trader Joe’s features a ridiculous number of exotic tomato varieties, and many apples more exciting than the granddaddy of premium varieites (Honeycrisp.)  

What are they doing to promote this to customers?  

I’m an occasional Trader Joe’s shopper, and just went there this weekend. I usually skip the produce in favor of better deals and more variety at H-E-B and H-E-B’s premium cousin Central Market, with the exception of the aforementioned premium tomatoes. A caprese is best made with Kumato brown tomatoes, in my opinion.  

My Trader Joe’s purchases trend heavily toward unique snacks and flavors I don’t see at other stores, and premium cheeses for a bargain. I just picked up their new onion salt and it is the best version of this I’ve ever had. Their Tangerine Juice is amazing, and my 9-year-old asks for it regularly.  

Considering shoppers picked these five as their “can’t live withouts,” should Trader Joe’s consider more variety and stronger merchandising in bulk produce, rather than reinforcing the wall of wacky packaged items?  

Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.