I just learned that Target stores are discontinuing San-J Asian cooking sauces, in favor of a private label line. This move upsets me for many reasons.
To me, San-J is to asian sauces what Glutino always has been to pretzels — THE company to turn to for gluten free in the category. Think about it: Glutino was the first company to bring us gluten-free pretzels made in a dedicated facility we knew we could trust and love. Many San-J sauces have always been gluten free, and all but one (SHOYU sauce) has been gluten free since 2010, and made in a gluten free facility, too.
San-J was the first to bring us safe options for soy sauce and travel packs, Thai Peanut, Hoisin, Teriyaki, Szechuan and so many more, with clean ingredient labels we don’t have to pour over to ensure our safety. AND San-J took the extra step to get certified gluten-free in 2010 through the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO), demonstrating their commitment to our GF community.
As a food manufacturer myself, my line of gfJules baking products is like my baby, so when I hear of another family business losing a major retail account, I can empathize. I know what that can do to a company’s bottom line and to its future. Beyond that though, eliminating the line from Target stores will cut off popular and convenient retail access for gluten free consumers who have come to love and trust San-J as a reliable, high quality source for gluten free products.
(On a personal note, without San-J Thai Peanut Sauce, my kids would never have eaten asparagus. Seriously.)
So I worry that this move by Target signals a pattern in the retail community initially led by companies like Trader Joes, and seen more and more in stores like Wegmans. By eliminating the products made by companies who innovated, who invested and who risked everything to make high quality, certified gluten-free products in dedicated GF facilities, and instead displacing them in favor of cheaper private label brands which only try to copy the originals, those brands which have been with our community all along may fall entirely by the wayside.
Furthermore, many of these cheap imitations also aren’t certified, and few are made in dedicated GF facilities. The private labels aren’t tied to our community and don’t understand why that’s so important to someone eating gluten free for a medical reason. They see dollar signs and fad dieters, and you know what? When the fad dieters go away, it’s likely that these private label products will too because, well … numbers. So then what?
If you care about San-J and other companies like it which have been providing us high quality, trusted gluten free products all along, and if you want to ensure that San-J remain available, please contact Target and tell them to #SaveSanJ.*
Target Customer Service Line: 1 (800) 440-0680
*By the way, this is NOT a sponsored post. I am a loyal supporter of San-J and always have been. And did I mention asparagus?