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Trader Joe's raises banana price for the first time in more than two decades

Creative shopping for high food costs
Shoppers getting creative to battle high food prices 05:42

Trader Joe's customers may experience sticker shock the next time they buy a banana —after more than 20 years, the retailer has hiked the price for the first time. 

The price of a single banana has gone up roughly 20%, rising from 19 cents each to 23 cents. A company spokesperson said that Trader Joe's only changes its prices when costs change. 

"We've now reached a point where this change is necessary," the spokesperson said.

Why are grocery prices rising?

Trader Joe's didn't go into detail about the reasons behind the price increase, but food prices have remained stubbornly high, even as inflation has cooled. By the end of 2023, consumers were paying nearly 20% more for the same groceries as they were in 2021, CBS MoneyWatch reported.

Cocoa and sugar are among the items with rising prices. Futures for a pound of sugar are up about 8% in 2024, after rising 2.7% in 2023. And cocoa prices hit record highs recently, with rising temperatures stressing and damaging crops in West Africa, where most of the world's cocoa is produced.

The price of a pound of bananas has remained relatively steady over the past year, ranging from 62 to 64 cents per pound from February of 2023 through February of 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. So it's not clear what's behind the rising price at Trader Joe's, but industry experts at the World Banana Forum earlier this month warned that the price of bananas around the world was very likely to rise because of climate change.

When temperatures increase beyond optimal levels for banana growth, there's a risk of low yields, Dan Bebber, a leading academic on sustainable agriculture and crop pathogens, previously told CBS News.

Climate change is also helping diseases that threaten banana trees, in particular the TR4 fungus, spread more easily.

Bebber said consumers should already be paying more for bananas to prevent the issue from getting worse, noting that higher prices would help banana-growing countries prepare for climate change, put mitigation measures in place, look after soils and pay workers higher wages. 

"Consumers have benefited from very, very cheap bananas over the past few decades. But it's not really a fair price, so that is really something that needs to be looked at," Bebber said.

Some good news for Trader Joe's fans

While food prices have gone bananas, some Trader Joe's prices are indeed falling. Green onions are now 99 cents, the lowest price in at least a decade, a company spokesperson said. Raw almonds are down a dollar, while romaine hearts and organic tri-color bell peppers are down 50 cents.

And all of those are cheaper than the viral Trader Joe's totes shoppers are re-selling online for hundreds of dollars.

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