So, yesterday I told you about the first part of my trip to Chicago/Batavia, and I mentioned that the district managers who gave us an Aldi store tour had told us all about the ways that Aldi cuts costs behind the scenes. This allows them to maintain a high level of food quality while still keeping their prices low.
Here’s one of the ways they accomplish that:
Aldi doesn’t remove its products from the cases they come in…instead, they just stack them up, right on the store shelving (which, by the way, is so durable that when they remodeled this store, all they had to do was put some fresh front pieces on the 18-year-old shelves. Yay for re-use!). The milk stays on the metal carts it comes in, as do the eggs.
Because of this, a truck that would typically take 50 man-hours to unload takes only 10. This means that Aldi can keep their stores stocked even with a minimal number of employees.
Aldi sells almost nothing but private label products, and they design these products to have bar codes all over them.
Why? Because the employees can scan the products faster this way, and that gets customers through the line in a speedy fashion. I know from experience that a single employee can get even a long line of customers rung up in seriously short order (where as a long line somewhere Walmart usually means a long wait!)
Also, all the Aldi employees are trained to do every job in the store, which means that they’re remarkably versatile. And because Aldi maintains a small staff (7-8 employees is the average per store), they can treat their employees well.
In Chicago, a starting Aldi employee gets paid almost 50% more than they would at a typical grocery store. Plus, any employee that works more than 20 hours per week receives full-time benefits, including dental, vision, and retirement.
Isn’t that awesome? I love to support stores that take good care of their employees.
How else does Aldi save?
Well, their small store size keeps their rent low. That, along with the doors on their freezers and refrigerators help keep their energy consumption to a minimum.
Aldi stocks only products that move quickly, which means they keep their food waste under control (you know that blows my hair back!).
And, they don’t offer free bags…you can bring your own or buy bags from Aldi. This makes me happy because not only does it reduce Aldi’s costs, it also motivates people to bring their own bags to the store (woohoo for less trash!)
There are a lot of other smart ways Aldi cuts costs too ( for example, the quarter system for their carts eliminates the need for a cart-fetcher, the debit-or-cash-only payment systems helps them avoid credit card fees), but I think you get the idea.
The bottom line is that Aldi finds creative ways to avoid unnecessary expenses so that they can spend their money on procuring quality food.
Speaking of quality, that’s what the next leg of our trip was about!
We took a ride out to Batavia, Illinois, home of Aldi’s headquarters. We bloggers got to be the first non-Aldi-employees to see the Aldi test kitchen.
What’s the Aldi test kitchen? It’s the place where Aldi products are tested every day to make sure that they meet or exceed the standard of the national brand. Aldi knows that to be a sustainable business, they need to provide products that satisfy their customers, and they go to great lengths to make sure their food is high-quality.
We got to try being taste-testers of all sorts of Aldi products, which was super fun.
All of our tests were blind sampling, which means that the national brand and Aldi’s brand were presented without packaging. We had no idea which was which until after we’d tasted the two products.
We got to sample wine…
And even a full dinner like you might serve for the holidays.
The savings are really incredible, and the food tastes just as good as the national brand does.
The chicken prices aren’t on that sheet, but let me tell you! The Aldi chicken breasts beat Perdue by a mile…waaay more tender and juicy.
We also had some dessert…brownies made from a mix, chocolate chip cookies made with Aldi ingredients, and frozen apple pie. In almost every case, the other bloggers and I agreed that the Aldi product met or exceeded the national standard, and all for a far lower price.
I also think it’s funny that the Schmitt Sohne label says, “Pick Me! Pick Me!”, but we all picked the Aldi brand. Sorry, Gentleman-In-A-German-Hat.
I was a big fan of Aldi before I went to Chicago, but after my visit, I love them even more. Their commitment to food quality, wise cost-cutting, and ethical employee treatment is impressive, and I’m so delighted to have had the opportunity to visit.
So, I totally think you should give Aldi a try if you haven’t yet. What are you waiting for?? They’ve got great food at prices that can’t be beat.
Aldi is so sure that you’ll be satisfied with their products, they offer a double-guarantee…you can bring back what you don’t like, get your money back AND get a replacement product for free. You have absolutely nothing to lose.
After the test kitchen visit, I was driven back to the airport, where I proceeded to sit for several hours again. Are planes ever on time??
After many snafus, I eventually got on a plane (going to a less-than-ideal airport, but at least it was vaguely near my home!). And the nice thing about going home a bit late is that the view from my window was so beautiful.
I haven’t flown for more than a decade, so I’d forgotten how beautiful cities are from the air at night. I tried to take pictures, but they’re all kind of blurry.
Despite my airport issues, I feel overwhelmingly positive about my trip. I felt spoiled rotten, I had a fabulous time hanging out with my fellow bloggers, every single Aldi employee I encountered was knowledgeable and pleasant, and I love Aldi even more profusely now that I’m well-informed about the company.
If you’re new to Aldi, here are some posts to get you started.
Some people say (a photo essay about Aldi produce)
Also, if you guys have questions about Aldi that I didn’t answer in these two posts, leave your question in the comments, and I’ll try to answer either there or in a separate post.
Oh, and I should tell you that although Aldi provided me with transportation and lodging, they did not pay me to write this post or to say positive things about Aldi. In fact, they didn’t give me any instructions when I left…they just trusted me to do my own thing, and I love, love, love that. Mwah to Aldi!
Today’s 365 post: Big teeth, little teeth