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Dec 2, 2007 07:59 PM

Disappointed in Trader Joes...

I sent this e-mail to Trader Joes corporate offices in Monrovia:

"You've changed Gerolsteiner from glass to plastic bottles. In doing so, you've changed the carbonation and the taste. Now Gerolsteiner is virtually flat and the taste is awful. So you or Gerolsteiner may save some money on weight but you've lost my wife and my business. We'll find another better tasting carbonated mineral water. Seems to me it's stupid to tamper with a successful good-selling product to save some bucks. Tell the German company that. And let them sell the plastic bottles in Europe. By the way I've been doing business with Trader Joes as Pronto before it opened the Pasadena store by the freeway, when I lived in Eagle Rock, so I'm a faithful customer who has liked most of what you've done; I even traveled to go to your first store in Pennsylvania when I moved there in Exton."

My wife added, "It tastes terrible now."

With Albertson's having very fine fresh herbs, something my wife liked a lot, and Tesco opening a new store in Laguna Hills, maybe Trader Joes needs to watch their flanks.
I'll probably go to Costco and buy their Italian sparkling water; see if it measures up.
This change to plastic bottles and different carbonation looked like a classic way to cut someone's costs - whether it was TJ's or Gerol's I couldn't say - but it did happen on TJ's turf and so they must have approved the switch.

Has anyone else encountered this type of switch at Trader Joes' before, and has it been a sign of reduced quality?

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  1. -Let them sell plastic bottles in Europe-
    What, so they get the flat water?????
    Did I misunderstand that line.......

    1. TJ's lost our sparkling water business when they stopped carrying Galvanina several years back. And you're right...with all the different competition now they aren't as unique as they used to be. In our family we've been shopping at TJ's for over 30 years as well but while I still visit regularly it's 1) not as often as it used to be and 2) not for all the same items. Still regularly buy eggs, milk, butter there though.

      We were buying Pellegrino at Costco ($/.99 for .750 bottle) up until very recently. A Whole Foods just went in down the street from us so we've switched to their 365 Italian Sparkling water(.89 for a litre).

      1 Reply
      1. re: ziggylu

        The prob with that is both Pellegrino and 365 are not NATURALLY sparkling due to mineral content as Gerolsteiner is, rather, they are CO@ added, so it isn't apples to apples.

      2. I'm curious about one small part of your post, where you say "it did happen on TJ's turf and so they must have approved the switch." I am unfamiliar with the brand of water you are talking about. Is TJ's the exclusive distributor of this stuff in the United States? Is this stuff available in other stores? How much of the US market in this stuff does TJ's have? Because I'm thinking that to conclude that because the stuff is being sold in TJ's means that TJ's "must" gave approved the switch isn't necessarily so. And what chefschickie says.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Shayna Madel

          I know I saw Gerolsteiner in glass at Whole Foods about two weeks ago. Is this a recent change?

          In a former life I was a buyer for a major retailer.....the manufacturer may have made this change on their own but it is the buyer's final decision whether to include the product in their assortment at the store. So, the TJ's buyer has to be OK with the new plastic packaging. Also, for a big enough company - and I would think Trader Joe's at this point would be in this category - the buyer can negotiate whatever packaging they want. Packaging can be very expensive....the buyer and manufacturer may have worked together to switch to plastic bottles to save some money and stay competitive.

          This stuff comes from Germany...maybe the plastic bottle is cheaper and this is something they've (the buyer and the mfg) have come up with to deal with the ever weakening dollar. TJ's was selling this for $.99 bottle(don't know if that's still the case, ahven't looked at their water prices in ages). That's an important price point and the packaging switch may have been done to keep that sub-$1 price point.

        2. The economics of shipping glass bottles halfway round the world must be considerable - not to mention the ecologocal cost.
          Why not buy local water?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Peg

            I cannot find any local sparkling mineral water personally. For me it was a special indulgence which replaced sodas. I still like a daily glass of effervesence, without any artificial sugars or flavors, in a non-leaching container. I have my last glass bottle in the fridge now. TJ's and Whole Foods were the only ones with decent prices on the Gerolsteiner around here...


            Gerolsteiner was always .99 when I lived in California at TJ's, but they raised it to 1.19 or 1.29 a year or two ago. Now it's 1.49 I think at the Michigan stores, but upwards of 2.00 when I go to a small grocer.

            Time to switch to the Whole Foods less tasty sparkling water in glass I fear...

          2. "you've lost my wife an my business"

            Really? Over mineral water. Seems you didn't care much for any of their other stuff anyhow.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Cathy

              Agreed. It's only water folks...