Trader Joe’s Ex-President Launches Grocery Store That Sells Healthy Food at Fast-Food Prices

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It looks like your common boutique supermarket, and with its aisles brimming with fresh produce and friendly staff assisting customers, it has nearly everything you would find in your typical suburban food store.

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But under the Whole Foods facade of carrot crates and egg carton stacks, something special is going on inside new store Daily Table that is hard to miss — the supermarket’s prices are so low that it seems like they are competing with fast food.

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Well, actually yes. Trader Joe’s president and now Daily Table founder Doug Rauch says that it actually is the point.

“Our job at Daily Table is to provide healthy meals that are no more expensive than what people are already buying,” said Rauch in an interview with the Boston Globe.

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“We’re trying to reach a segment of the population that is hard to reach. It’s the working poor who are out buying food, but who can’t afford the food they should be eating.”

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Following Rauch’s studies at Harvard University’s Advanced Leadership Initiative in 2012, he crafted a model that is a nonprofit but somehow runs like a business that is able to sustain itself.

With pricing that includes $1.19 for a dozen eggs, $1.99 for a block of cheddar cheese and 55 cents for a can of tuna, the store clearly isn’t built on generating huge profits. Their cheap prices are made possible by sourcing surplus foods or goods classified as nearing their expiration from farmers, supermarkets, manufacturers, and food distributors.

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This model actually solves not only most people’s lack of access to affordable, healthy food but also the significant amount of unsold food disposed of every day.

Daily Table’s mission is clear on the company’s website: “Our healthy meal options will be priced to compete with the fast-food alternatives in the neighborhood.”

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“We’ll be doing all of this by recovering food from supermarkets, growers and food distributors that would otherwise have been wasted. Hunger & wasted food are two problems that can have one solution.”

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Right now, there is only one store in Boston. But with the way the community in Dorchester is responding, expect more stores to pop up soon. Rauch is eyeing more stores in the Boston area and in cities such as Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

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