I came back from Paris and the first thing I did when I stopped to do some grocery shopping at Trader Joe's Capitol Hill was go to the dairy section to load up on my precious Fage Total Greek Yogurt. I had only one container left and I am never without it, always with plenty of back-up in our fridge. To my surprise, I noticed there was no yogurt left on the shelves. How odd! This has never happened before so I inquired about the whereabouts of the stock.
One of the gals minding the demo booth told me they had no Fage left and that she had no idea when it would be back in stock. Then, the worst news I've received in months: that the company had lost its license to import their products to the USA and that whatever stock was left at stores had to be pulled out and destroyed.
Being the fan that I am of this product I literally felt like I had been punched in the stomach. In fact, I was sad and I am sure, for a few seconds there I probably had a pout. I mean, how could this happen? If you've ever tried this yogurt you would be as sad as I was. You would know there is just nothing else like it in the market. Nothing. Nowhere. I know. I've tried them all. Not Neal's Yard (which I purchased at Harrods’s and quickly disposed off) and certainly no other yogurt in the market that does not come from Greece.
Why must this happen now, when those of us loyal consumers of Fage Greek Yogurt have made it such a vital part of our daily diet that the thought of it no being available indefinitely and the fact that there is no real certainty of it coming back to the US is parallel to that of starting our day without coffee? I tried to get answers from the store's management.
They told me they had no other news, no other information. That they had instructions from "Corporate" to pull the product and that they had no idea when and if it would ever come back to the USA. That this was not just a Trader Joe's issue but that the same applied to DeLaurenti and Whole Foods, in the Seattle area and all over the USA, wherever this yogurt was sold. They also told me that the problem was not the product itself but the licensing for Fage to import their products to the USA. That everyone else in Europe still had access to Fage's yogurt. That this was a US only issue.
I tried to look for something to soften the blow, to soothe my nerves and help me make deal with the bad news. I went back to the cooler to pick up a few duos of Spega and wouldn't you know it, they were out of it too! They were just out, they told me. Not a problem with this supplier at all, just too popular to keep in stock.
There was a row of blue and white containers of a new product: Trader Joe's brand "Greek Style Yogurt". I snatched two and place them, hopeful, in my basket. As soon as I got home I wanted to try these. Out came the farmers market honey and my walnut bag. But sadly, it was not the same at all. The texture was different, the flavor was nothing at all like Fage and the horror, I had purchased two of them! Why did I even bother? I knew it would not be the same, it could not be.
Yesterday, I stopped by Trader Joe's again. Ever the optimist, I was hoping for good news. To see my little containers of yogurt stacked up high, all next to each other on neat little rows. Total, 1% and 2%, with and without honey. And once again I had to go home empty handed but not before inquiring again about the fate of my yogurt.
I was told they had no information and that ever since the product was pulled many others, such as me, had also voiced their sadness and frustration for the disappearance of Fage from Trader Joe's and supermarket shelves everywhere. That he was sorry. That the wished he could help.
I've left messages at Fage's NY offices. I've sent emails. I plan to send them a fax Monday just to let them know I miss them and can't wait to have them back. Maybe it won't make a difference but at least it will make me feel better.