- Trader Joe’s former president Doug Rauch helped create the store’s cult-like following during his 31-year career with the company.
- After leaving Trader Joe’s in 2008, Rauch turned his attention to helping solve the hunger crisis in America.
- He has since launched an even cheaper grocery store – called Daily Table – with an innovative approach to making food affordable.
Former president of Trader Joe’s Doug Rauch has had a lasting impact on the lives of the famous grocery store chain’s customers.
Hired in 1977 by the company’s founder, Joe Coulombe, Rauch was tasked with developing the company’s private food label – a main factor in why the store’s prices are so low. Later, he oversaw the store’s expansion throughout the US through 2008.
After helping create the cult-like following for the grocery retailer, Rauch moved on from Trader Joe’s, becoming a Harvard Leadership Fellow. He began looking into why hunger in America is still an issue for 41 million people.
What he learned was surprising.
“Hunger in America isn’t like hunger throughout all the history of mankind. Obesity is the face of hunger in America,” he told Business Insider during the James Beard Leadership awards in May.
“We have one in six Americans that are hungry, and we’re one of the richest nations in the history of the world in food,” he said. “Meanwhile, somewhere between 30% and 40% of the food we grow is just going to waste – it’s not being consumed,” he said. And the food that is available and affordable is what Rauch calls “empty calories” and “less nutritious.”
“It’s not a shortage of calories, it’s a shortage of nutrients,” he said.
According to Rauch, 38% of Americans who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – formerly referred to as the Food Stamp Program – were not enrolling because “they were ashamed, and embarrassed. They feel somehow lessened [by using them].”
With these key findings, Rauch decided to bring his retail chops into the non-profit world.
In 2012 he founded Daily Table – a not-for-profit retail store that sells food such as produce, meat, and prepared meals to its customers.
Daily Table keeps its costs down by stocking shelves with food that would have otherwise gone to waste because it’s nearing its expiration date and isn’t considered suitable by other grocery stores.
“We don’t sell anything past its code date, so the customer is getting everything in front of its code date, but they’re getting it at phenomenally cheap prices,” he said.
With two locations, one in Dorchester, Massachusetts and another in Roxbury, Daily Table uses the power of the marketplace to provide low-cost, nutritious food to its customers.
“People don’t want a handout. They want to feel they’re providing for their family,” said Rauch. By using the retail model, Rauch has given the power of choice to his customers. “In retail you flip the power differential so instead of me being the giver and you the receiver, I’ve got to earn your patronage every single day,” he said.
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