…and it’s difficult to find out.
There has been a trend in the supermarket industry where the chain will have its own brand. Hannaford Brothers has its “My Essentials” and “Taste of Inspirations” Trader Joe’s has “Trader Joe’s”, and the many other chains: Whole Foods, Shaw’s, Kroger, and Publix to name a few, stock private label products produced at co-packers.
In addition to the chains, many well known brands are produced by other companies (Reese, Haddon House, and those canned smoked oysters, mussels and clams made in China for some big brands).
Why is this important? You may want to know who’s producing the food you are taking into your body. You may want to buy products to support local or regional producers. You may want to know if you are purchasing products where the producer has been cited by the FDA for sanitation violations, or warned for misbranding (these are published and can be found on the FDA website). You may have reservations about buying products from a subsidiary of a big chemical producer. Whatever the reason, disclosure is lacking.
Here’s the Rule for who makes the product: (inquiring minds check out FDA CFR21 Sec 101.5 for the full regulation) I’ll paraphrase: Declare your company name, and if you don’t actually produce it you must use the phrase “Distributed By” or “Manufactured For” or any language to indicate you actually didn’t produce it.
Trader Joe’s (and I like shopping there), does not have food factories in Monrovia, CA. It has offices with lots of hard working people, but hundreds of labels at their store show “Distributed by Trader Joes, Monrovia CA”. “Newman’s Own” Salsa is “Produced Exclusively for Newman’s Own, Inc. Westport, CT”. There are no salsa factories in Westport CT.
The regulation has been on the books for a long time. Legislative action would be needed to overturn it. The question is- do we want to?