Say It Ain’t So, Joe!!!! No More Cashew Meal @ Trader Joe’s????

Today I went on my usual replenishing-the-cupboard trek: Trader Joe’s for the things I can’t get at Whole Foods, then on trader joe'sto Whole Foods for the things I can’t get at HEB, etc, etc, etc. On my list to replenish (because I’m down to 1.5 lbs in inventory) was Trader Joe’s Just Cashew Meal. I love cashew meal. It tastes sweet and flavorful. It’s full of healthy oil and nutrients. And at Trader Joe’s, it’s a veritable steal (or at least it was . . . . ) at $4.99 per pound. On the shelf where the tag read Cashew Meal were packages of gluten-free flour. The packages of almond meal were right next to that spot, right where it was supposed to be, in plentiful number. No cashew meal, though. I looked behind the gluten-free baking mix. No straggler packages of cashew meal. Thinking I might find it in another spot in the store,  I strolled over to the shelves that hold all the packages of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and what have you. No cashew meal. I was dismayed, but continued my shopping. As the cashier rang up my purchases, I asked him about the cashew meal. I could not believe my ears, nor contain my emotion, when he explained to me that Trader Joe’s has discontinued carrying cashew meal. While I cried out my fervent devotion to the product, he further explained that the cashew meal didn’t sell well and the shelf space was needed for products that would sell better. Having trouble processing the information that few people desire the product, for just about every cooking / baking resource I read includes recipes in which cashew flour is used, I asked whether it is discontinued at this one particular Trader Joe’s, or at all Trader Joe’s location. He affirmed my worst fear. Cashew meal has been discontinued at all Trader Joe’s, everywhere.

I explained to him that I regularly purchase cashew meal, so I found it difficult to believe it’s that little in demand. He responded to me that I and about two other people regularly purchase it. He then told me that one woman who regularly purchases the cashew meal decided to buy cashews and make the meal herself, but the store has been unable to get whole cashews for over a month. Fearful of what the paucity of cashews portends (A world shortage? A temporary retail shortage? An isolated blip in the Trader Joe’s supply chain?), I left the store, swept through Whole Foods at a pace unusual for me, and hurried home to check on the status of cashew supplies in the United States. I actually started reading commodity futures and other agricultural sources. While I was looking into the cashew problem, I decided to look at the prospect of almond crops (which I already know are threatened by the extended drought in CA), as well as that of pistachio crops. Having to eat gluten-free, and now wanting to eat as few gluten-free grains as possible, I have depended largely upon these nut flours for baking.

What I found out about almonds and pistachio crops and the prospect of the supply this next year is not surprising. California is the largest world supplier of almonds, and it’s the second largest world supplier of pistachios. This year’s almond crop, predicted in the summer of 2014 to be unaffected by the drought and actually larger than last years, turned out to be quite a bit smaller than last year’s crop. The ground water that almond farmers tapped into for watering their crops turned out to be poor quality water, with higher amounts of certain chemicals or elements that led to smaller crop than expected. As a result, we can continue to see the already high price of almonds, and thus almond flour, rise.

The pistachio crop is suffering from the drought as well, despite the pistachio tree’s heartier nature. Politics also affects the price we pay for pistachios in the United States: Iran is the world’s largest producer of pistachios, but the embargo we have on trade with Iran means that we have little choice but to pay the rising cost of pistachios supplied by California. Of course, I’m giving only a brief description of the problem facing people who regularly consume almonds and pistachios as part of their regular diets, and must grow accustomed to the high price of grain-free eating.

Concerning cashews,  the supply is mostly adequate, but for the early monsoons interfering with this year’s cashew crops in India, the world’s second top supplier (after the Ivory Coast, which is the world’s largest exporter of cashews) have caused the prices of cashews to rise. In addition to the shortage of supply from India, increased world demand – especially in India – for cashews affects the nut’s price. After reading about the cashew situation, I’m thinking that perhaps the higher cost, rather than lack of demand cited by the cashier who rang up my groceries today, may be the reason behind Trader Joe’s decision to discontinue carrying the unbelievably low-priced cashew meal. I can understand the economics of the situation; Trader Joe’s is a grocery store built upon the promise of supplying quality food products at an affordable price. I just hope that if the situation is otherwise, someone at Trader Joe’s who reads my email inquiry about the matter (well, yes, I did email the company about the cashew meal when I arrived home from my grocery shopping), see that demand for the product does indeed exist, and add it back to the store’s inventory.

A post about the price and supply of nut flours, inspired by the decision of a grocery store chain to discontinue carrying cashew meal, may seem obsessive . . . . but for those of us who depend upon alternative flours / meals in our diets, predictions of shortages and rising prices helps us to plan our diets accordingly. We may have to look more toward psuedo-grains such as buckwheat or kaniwa to replace increasingly expensive nut flours.

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17 thoughts on “Say It Ain’t So, Joe!!!! No More Cashew Meal @ Trader Joe’s????

  1. I was at our local Trader Joe’s just yesterday and discovered that they no longer carry the cashew meal. I, too, was a big fan of the product. I used it for making cookies and breads. It added a wonderful texture and flavor to my baking. I’m really bummed out they no longer have it. I was thankful to find they still have the almond meal, which I also love, but I hope they bring back the cashew meal at some point. I would be willing to pay more for it just because it was such a great product.

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    • Hi, Christine. I hope Trader Joe’s brings back the cashew meal, too. My blog post about the company’s decision to quit selling the cashew meal is one of my post read posts, which tells me that the demand for Trader Joe’s cashew flour is, despite the email I received in response to my query, in high demand. I order it from online sources, now, but I have to pay shipping. Sigh.

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  2. t morris…it’s been a few months now, so, I sort of forgot about it. But, I also loved, loved, LOVED!!! the cashew meal at TJs. I went through the same motions, not wanting to accept the fact that they had discontinued carrying it, and to be told that it wasn’t selling. I can’t tell you how many products it has happened for me at TJs. I was using it a lot of it in my GF baking, and the price was great! Also, the fact that it was a ‘blanched’ nut flour (although, technically cashews need no blanching). The almond meal is NOT blanched, so I can’t use the almond meal without having a ‘speckled’ look to my product. It a HUGE disappointment to me! I do order from Nuts.com, get my pistachio meal from http://www.santabarbarapistachios.com, and so on. Clearly, we are a minority…

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    • Good morning, Cherie! I don’t use the almond meal from Trader Joe’s, either, because it’s not blanched. THANK YOU for sending along the link to Santa Barbara Pistachios! I just explored the company website and I LOVE the products offered there! I also like to support small businesses, so I will definitely order some pistachio oil and flour from that site (probably some of the chocolate toffee pistachios, when more are in stock, as well).

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  3. Just did my stock up run and nearly fainted – we rely on this for gluten and Almond free (almond allergy in the house) for coating eggplant it is just far superior to bread crumbs. Outstanding in stuffed mushrooms. All family favorites.

    Going to check the Sprouts that are shooting up around Atlanta. Otherwise Amazon has 2bls for $30 shipped – yes we are that addicted. My daughter just asked when her cashew cookies (like meranges but with cashew or almond meal) would be coming.

    Might try coconut flour or chickpea flour on the eggplant buy those might have to be fried and I could bake the cashew to a golden brown – but neither will work on the mushroom caps. Walnuts perhaps???

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    • Yes, Trader Joe’s has done a great disservice to the gluten-free community by discontinuing its cashew flour! Nuts.com has it for $11.99 a lb, and $11.63 for five pounds, plus shipping (Nuts.com shipping policy annoys me – most places ship free for orders over $35 or $50. Nuts.com ships free only over 200 lbs!). Ohnuts.com has cashew flour for $9.99 a pound, or $9.49 for five pounds (but free shipping only on orders over $99). For flours I use all the time, I buy five pound bags and keep it in the refrigerator after opening, to keep it from going rancid. If you use a lot of cashew flour, you might consider buying in bulk, to see if you can save money that way. I have used ground pecans for breading meat, before; it tasted delicious. You can by pecans from the bulk sections at grocery stores for much less than they cost packaged, on the grocery shelf. I’m not sure you’d be happy with the result of coconut flour as a breading, but chickpea flour should work fine. I’ve had Indian food coated in chickpea flour and fried; it’s pretty tasty! Good luck, SKI!

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    • Don’t you hate when that happens, Teresa? Judging from all the feedback I’ve gotten in response to my post, and from what I’ve read elsewhere, that Trader Joe’s must have some other reason for removing cashew meal from its shelves. Lack of demand does NOT seem to be a problem!

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  4. I just sent the same anguished comment to TJ’s — bring back cashew meal! I can’t make one of my favorite dishes without it. Please, Joe, give us a break.

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    • I hope TJ’s listens to you, Cashew Chris, and to all the voices rising in unison to protest to the store’s ill-guided decision to discontinue the delicious tasting, and deliciously priced, cashew meal. No more flavorful, juicy cashew meal-coated chicken breasts baked in the oven. No more pleasantly chewy, moist cashew meal dark chocolate chip cookies. No more cashew meal, coconut flour muffins. Extremely disappointing.

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  5. I just came across a recipe that requires cashew flour. I was going to stop by TJ’s and get some … drat! I might try subbing almond meal and cashew milk and see how the recipe turns out …

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    • Hi, Maddalen! I hope your recipe turned out, without the cashew flour. I was Trader Joe’s today, and I’m still saddened by the store’s decision to stop carrying the cashew flour. Business is business, I guess. On the brighter side, I picked up some grilling cheese from Trader Joe’s today. It’s Halloumi cheese, a grilling (sheep) cheese from Cyprus. Can’t wait to try it!

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    • Hi, BreAnna! The people at Trader Joe’s responded to my email about the discontinuation of the cashew meal. Apparently you and I must be the only people who love their cashew meal; the person who wrote the response said that too few people bought the meal for the company to keep it on the shelves. I really don’t understand the supposed lack of demand. Any search for cashew meal at all on the web brings up numerous sites where people are recommending Trader Joe’s cashew meal. I’ve searched for the least expensive source online. Nuts.com is my usual go to for many nut flours, but cashew flour on that site is more expensive than that company’s almond flour. The least expensive sources I found online are Wellbee’s.com and ohnuts.com: $9.99 per pound. Nuts.com cashew meal is certified gluten-free, which may be one reason it costs $11.99 per pound, but Trader Joe’s cashew meal isn’t (or wasn’t) certified gluten-free and it never glutenized me so I don’t believe it was cross-contaminated. Perhaps the cashew meal from Wellbee’s or Oh Nuts is safe, as well.

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