I’ve been a big fan of popchips. The other day I stumbled upon Trader Joe’s version called Popped Potato Chips that looked remarkably similar. It turns out many products sold under Trader Joe’s private label are made by well known companies. According to Fortune's Inside the Secret World of Trader Joe's, “...big, well-known companies also make many of Trader Joe's products. Those Trader Joe's pita chips? Made by Stacy's, a division of PepsiCo's Frito-Lay. On the East Coast much of its yogurt is supplied by Danone's Stonyfield Farm.”
After comparing both products, they tasted and looked virtually identical.
So I decided to investigate this a little further by comparing the ingredients. Sure enough, both popchips and Trader Joe’s Popped Potato Chips had almost the same exact ingredients (just arranged and worded a little differently), and both were vegetarian and gluten free.
I'm no Sherlock Holmes, but I think it's safe to say popchips are making Trader Joe’s Popped Potato Chips. Apparently securing an account with Trader Joe’s is every vendors dream. “It pays on time and doesn't mess with extra charges for advertising, couponing, or slotting fees that traditional supermarkets charge suppliers to get their products onto the shelves,” explains Fortune.
A quick comparison on pricing also shows that a 3.25 oz bag of Trader Joe’s Popped Potato Chips retails for $1.99 while popchips 3.0 oz bag retails for $3.19. That’s a pretty big difference and no brand would wants consumers to know that a lower priced version of the same product exists.
One can only speculate since Trader Joe’s is notoriously secretive. “Former executives say that Trader Joe's wants neither its shoppers nor its competitors to know who's making its products. And many suppliers aren't that keen on consumers knowing that they produce a lower-cost version for Trader Joe's either.“
Have you tried both popchips and Trader Joe’s Popped Potato Chips? What do you think?