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Does TrJ Care? (Do they act on customer feedback?)

I live in the Boston area and have observed that the TrJ frozen entree products that I most like- are very high in sodium.* From what i see at all the diff TJ we frequent, the customer base is primarily young/under 35. At that age, most people are not really salt conscious. What I'm getting to is this:
1) do you think there is much of a TJ customer base that is/would be vocal about 'too much salt'?
2) do you think TJ pays much attention to customer feedback of this kind?
They and the other national groceries- seem to have become aware or quite aware - of 'vegetarian', 'gluten free' and 'vegan', but not of 'lower salt' needs.

* Tom Yum Soup; Kai Soi; Steak Burritos; Chicken Tikka Masala., Japanese Rice.....

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  1. Generally, most prepared foods are loaded with sodium. TJ's is no different than the rest. As for feed back, it never hurts to write a comment.

    1. They do have a list of low sodium products somewhere on their website. It's not incredibly helpful, however, because they list things like water and fruit juice which are naturally low in sodium just to make it appear that they have a greater selection of low sodium items than they actually do. Some of their grocery items have a picture of a salt shaker on them to indicate that it is a low sodium product. I haven't really noticed it on the frozen entrees, perhaps because most people who are buying prepared entrees know that they are going to be pretty high in sodium. The same is true for the refrigerated entrees. When I've previously asked about the excessively high sodium content, I've just gotten the reply that it's because they don't use any artificial preservatives in their products. Which is great and all, but freezing is a excellent method of natural preservation, so that answer doesn't really apply to their frozen products.

      I have pretty much given up on emailing customer service because if they respond, it is with a generic, falsely cheerful reply with virtually no information. So I just accept that I will have to get certain other items at Whole Foods and Fresh Market. Oh well. They do so many other things well that it doesn't bother me.

      1. they try to keep preservatives to a minimum, and no artificial preservatives in the trader joe's-labeled items. salt acts as a preservative and is "natural". that's one of the reasons their stuff is sometimes higher in sodium.
        as far as responsiveness, i do know that an actual person reads every email they receive. but if a few people complain about sodium levels, that may not be cause for action. i know they have responded on other issues, non-BGH milk, moving toward sustainable seafood, etc., so it's worth a shot.

        1. It seems that prepared foods are generally high in sodium, but I hope you get helpful feedback from TJs.

          The low sodium frozen entrees that spring to mind are the single-serve cod with ratatouille and wild rice and the salmon with orzo. Both are delicious without the high salt content. Don't know the exact figures but I remember being pleasantly surprised.

          1. I'm not a TJ's shopper, but my impression looking in from outside seems to be that they're more responsive than most.

            It's free to send them a note...and if enough people agree with you, I'm guessing they'd notice.

            But ultimately, it's up to us to read the labels and make decisions based on our own individual situations (which is why there's very, very little pre-prepared food at my house)....but if everyone votes with their wallets and feet toward lower-sodium, they don't have much choice but to listen.

            4 Replies
            1. re: sunshine842

              "But ultimately, it's up to us to read the labels and make decisions based on our own individual situations (which is why there's very, very little pre-prepared food at my house)."

              This is exactly how I feel about the issue. Whether we're looking for gluten-free, soy-free, low-sodium, low-sodium, it's the consumer's responsibility to read the label. I buy plenty of things from TJs but very few prepared food items. If I see something interesting, the first thing I do is pick it up and read the % sodium. I usually look at this even before calories or anything else. If it's over a certain % I walk away.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                and even beyond the health issue -- I also know that if it's really high in sodium, we're not going to like it anyway, because I cook with very little added salt, so almost all pre-prepared foods (and, sadly, lots of restaurant food) tastes like a salt lick to us.

                (I dropped and broke my salt shaker a couple of years ago - and it was about 6 weeks before anybody even noticed it was missing...)

                1. re: sunshine842

                  So true, it's like me with most sweet things...waayyy too sweet which is why I gave up on buying any store-bought desserts.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    us, too, on a lot of things...and unfortunately, the more I avoid processed food because it's too salty/sugary -- the worse it tastes when I eventually end up eating it but don't have much choice.

                    It's good and bad -- it's really eye-opening to see how salty/sugary things are when you stop eating like that, so you do have a little bit of reward that you're doing something good for yourself...but when you're out with friends/late hours/etc. and end up having to eat it, you really don't enjoy it

            2. 1. I don't buy most prepared food because of sodium though not sure I'd be vocal about it. It's not just TJs, that's sort of how prepared foods roll.

              Several of the examples you post are Asian foods which of course will be salty due to the ingredients involved. I just avoid the foods. It's frustrating at times but I made the choice to limit sodium.

              1. FWIW, I e-mailed TJ's customer service with a link to this thread.

                1. personally, as a very frequent TJ customer, the salt content of their prepared foods doesn't bother me AT ALL.

                  otoh, i'd be pretty pissed if i couldn't get the organic fresh/frozen vegetables or the organic coffee or the organic cold cereal, that i've come to rely on.. . . .

                  1. It isn't just TJs, as others have said frozen prepared meals are often high in sodium.
                    With regards to your favorites you could use a smaller portion of the soup and add unsalted broth as one way to lower the sodium content, as well as mix the japanese rice with plain rice (TJs even sells plain frozen rice).
                    I think TJs does listen to customer feedback-but they listen most to the cash register.... If sales remain the same they wouldn't have much incentive to reformulate these products.

                    1. I can't speak for the sodium, since we usually don't buy prepared foods, but I can tell you they listen to customers. Several years ago, friends of ours realized that TJs was selling fresh garlic from China. We're in Southern California and the garlic capital of the country is just a few hours' drive north of here. We and our friends both wrote letters, and encouraged others to do so - within a few months, they'd stopped carrying Chinese garlic and switched to California.

                      1. The problem is most people don't like the taste of low sodium prepared foods. People say they want to cut back on sodium, but when they try a reduced sodium product, they won't buy it again.

                        Campbell's soup is a good example http://www.forbes.com/sites/nadiaarum...

                        1. Obviously they aren't going to respond as desired to every request. You may want less salt, others may like the entees just as they are. Still enough customers ask for a particular change, they are more likely to respond.

                          I don't buy many of their prepared entrees, but judging from some complaints on the TJ threads, they have more than their share of low flavor/salt entrees.

                          Do those entrees taste too salty, or are you just going by the label?

                          1. Oh.i tried to hold back, but I can't

                            TJ's sells Crap....it sells crap that SELLS...just like any other place. If Gluten-free or Salt-free or Free-range or Artisinal is the hot word of the day, they get you covered!.

                            If it tastes good.and fits within your "social-aura"..and.. it continues to sell, great!..if not..Sayonara!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                              I used to feel that way, 5? yrs ago when TJ first arrived in Boston. But they have improved by leaps and bounds and now stock some really good prepared foods (certainly more losses than wins, but i keep giving them a chance, and i return what i don't like.) Sorry you think a blanket statement like yours is accurate. I hope you'll keep reading this thread and ultimately will find something you like.