Hobbit Business Review

Trader Joe’s Is Increasing the Price of a Cult-Favorite Item for the First Time in 20 Years

Discount grocery chain Trader Joe’s is known for competitively low prices and one-of-a-kind products that can sometimes generate a cult-like following.

The 19 cents banana, for example, is practically a legend — the price of the produce hasn’t changed in over 20 years.

But on Tuesday, the California-based grocer announced that it will be upping the price of bananas for the first time in over two decades.

The price will increase by nearly 20% to 23 cents.

“We only change our prices when our costs change, and after holding our price for Bananas at 19 cents each for more than two decades, we’ve now reached a point where this change is necessary,” a Trader Joe’s spokesperson told CNN in a statement, without further elaboration.

In January 2024, the banana was voted the No. 1 favorite produce by Trader Joe’s customers for the fifth time.

According to most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average prices of bananas in the U.S. remained relatively unchanged from February 2023 to 2024, dropping one cent in a one-year period from 63 cents per pound to 64 cents per pound.

However, a recent inflation report shows that grocery prices in general rose 1.2% from January 2023 to December 2023, with December 2023 prices 25% higher than they were in January 2020.

What Is the Legend of the 19 Cents Banana?

“We used to sell bananas by the pound, like everybody else, but that meant because we don’t have scales in the store, that we had to weigh them and package them in little plastic bags in the warehouse before they got shipped out and usually the smallest bag you could buy, it was like four or five bananas,” said former CEO Dan Bane said on the inaugural episode of Trader Joes’ podcast, Inside Trader Joe’s.

But the Bane had an interaction with an elderly customer, who changed Trader Joe’s approach to selling bananas completely.

“A customer … comes up and she looks at all the packages but didn’t put one in her cart. And so I asked her, I said, ‘Ma’am, if you don’t mind me asking, I saw you looking at the bananas but you didn’t, you didn’t put anything in your cart’ and she says to me ‘Sonny, I may not live to that fourth banana!’ And so we decided the next day we were going to sell individual bananas, and they’ve been 19 cents ever since,” he said.

Trader Joe’s currently operates over 570 stores across the U.S.

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