Trader Joe's: Sorry, Everyone, We Had No Choice on This

Grocery chain increases price of single banana from 19 cents to 23 cents, first bump since 2001
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2024 7:45 AM CDT
Updated Mar 30, 2024 4:27 PM CDT
Trader Joe's Hasn't Upped Cost of This in 20 Years—Until Now
People stand in line waiting to enter a Trader Joe's in Pembroke Pines, Florida, on March 24, 2020.   (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

Trader Joe's has been selling bananas for 19 cents apiece since the George W. Bush administration, but staffers are now changing up the fruit's price tags. It's not quite a Lucille Bluth-level bump, but the grocery chain will now be hawking individual bananas for 23 cents each instead of 19 cents, a raise of more than 20%, reports CNN.

  • Statement: "We only change our prices when our costs change, and ... we've now reached a point where this change is necessary," a Trader Joe's rep tells the outlet.

  • History: Bananas at Trader Joe's had gone for 19 cents since the supermarket started selling them individually in 2001, "with signage at some Trader Joe's locations boasting about the store's refusal" to up the cost of one of its most popular food items, per CNBC.
  • Rising costs: The average price of bananas overall has stayed more or less steady over the past year, with the price per pound ranging from 62 to 64 cents from February 2023 to this past February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, a pound of bananas in February 2020, before the pandemic hit full force, was just 57 cents.The Los Angeles Times notes the Trader Joe's banana price spike is in sync with "a broader national trend," with inflation-touched groceries continuing to burn a hole in consumers' pockets despite a relatively strong economy.
  • Future increases? The cost of bananas around the world will likely continue to creep up thanks to climate change, though industry experts say paying more now will give banana-growing nations the money to try to mitigate some of that climate change, per CBS News.
  • Price drops: Meanwhile, it's not all bad news for Trader Joe's shoppers. The chain says that although it had to raise its banana prices, it's dropped the cost of other produce, including bell peppers, green onions, and romaine hearts.
  • Origin story: How bananas came to be sold individually in the first place at TJ's is a hoot: In a 2018 podcast, it was revealed that then-CEO Dan Bane had asked an older customer why she declined to buy a bunch of bananas she'd been looking at, and she'd replied, "Sonny, I may not live to that fourth banana," per CNBC. "And so we decided the next day we were going to sell individual bananas," Bane told the "Inside Trader Joe's" podcast.
(More Trader Joe's stories.)

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