So! You guys had a lot of questions about Aldi after reading about my trip to their headquarters, so I decided to pull them all from the comments and answer them in a post. This will be a little longer than a usual Q&A post, but I wanted to get all these questions answered in one place!
Before I get to that, I just wanted to address a concern that was raised about my trip to Aldi’s headquarters…that I am raving about Aldi simply because they whisked me off to Chicago. If you’re new here, you might not know that I’ve shopped at Aldi for years and have blogged about them of my own accord for years as well. I try really hard to only work with companies that I can honestly endorse, and since I’m a satisfied Aldi customer, working with Aldi was a no-brainer.
Also, someone asked how Aldi found me (I can’t remember who!). I checked, and just as I thought, they did a search for value bloggers that talked about Aldi, and I came up.
Where does Aldi stand on organic foods? I shopped there for awhile but decided I’d rather switch to things I know are 100% chemical and pesticide free.
Well, Aldi decides what to carry based on demand and sales volume. They’re trying some organic products as special buys to see how well they go over with their customer base. So, I guess if you see organic foods at Aldi, buy them to show your support!
I’m definitely not going to say that Aldi’s food is a better choice than local, organic, unpackaged food. If you can afford to eat only that type of food, I think that’s great (and I mean that most sincerely!). But for the many Americans who don’t currently have the budget for organic, local food, I think shopping at Aldi is a great way to stretch the food budget.
I love to shop at Aldi’s. I can’t buy all my groceries there, but Aldi shopping does save me money. Just out of curiosity, who were the other bloggers that you mentioned?
A few questions/comments, since you seem to have the “in” with the HQ:
– nutella equivalent. Please please PLEASE bring this back on a regular basis. Please. And thank you.
– canned pumpkin. I tried this a few years ago and was not a fan. It’s the only thing I really don’t like, so I stick to Libby’s. Sorry, Aldi.
– the plan on the Clybourn store in Chicago was quite well-executed. I LOVE that Trader Joe’s is right upstairs for my tofu and yogurt starter needs. Good call, Aldi/Trader Joe’s management.
– everything else – huge fan. I wax poetic about the store to my coworkers. I write thank you letters about things like their ketchup bottle and soymilk container redesigns. I ask about the nutella and the spinach and the seasonal items. I always get a personal letter back.
As far as I know, the Nutella is going to be a regular product! I saw it in the Chicago store I visited, and it was not a special buy.
I used Aldi’s pumpkin in baking and didn’t notice a difference. Hmm.
You are SUPER lucky to have a TJ’s and an Aldi right by each other. I visited a Clybourn store in Chicago, and didn’t see a TJ’s right there (there was a Dominick’s next door, though). Are there two Aldi stores in Clybourn??
Loving this series! A few questions:
What’s the connection between TJ’s and Aldi’s?
Did you get to see/meet any of your blogger friends?
Aldi and TJ’s are owned by brothers, but they are completely separate companies. So, any product similarities are coincidental.
I didn’t get to meet any blogger friends that I already knew, but it was still super fun to meet other bloggers…it was lovely to talk shop with other people who do what I do!
Aldi does so much right – from ecofriendliness to good service and of course, those great prices. But much, much of the packaged snack food contain hydrogenated oils, which of course, extend shelf life and are much cheaper as an ingredient. But hydrogenated oils are on the don’t buy list according to ALL the major health organizations.
I try to avoid buying foods with hydrogenated oils in them as well, and I still find that I can buy many, many of Aldi’s products. I double-checked on my last two visits there and none of the snack foods I bought had hydrogenated oils in them. Hopefully Aldi will phase out hydrogenated oils entirely, but in the meantime, I recommend just shopping carefully and only buying Aldi products that work with your dietary concerns. I think you’ll still find a lot of good food to buy!
My question for you is what did you see that you didn’t like, or struck you as having room for lots of improvement?
Well, I’d like to see more of their produce without packaging (more on that later). Also, I think it would be great if they sold more whole grain foods (they do sell plain oatmeal and some whole grain cereals, crackers, and breads).
Of course, like any grocery store, Aldi sells some food that I wouldn’t personally buy, like prepared foods, frozen meals, mixes, frozen pies, and so on. But if I were to avoid every store that sold food I can’t wholly endorse, I couldn’t really shop anywhere.
Other than that, I can’t really think of anything! I mean, there’s the odd Aldi product I’ve disliked (I’ve mentioned that before), but I honestly didn’t come away from my trip thinking their model needs lots of improving. Is it perfect? Nope. In an ideal world, we’d all buy organic, unpackaged, unprocessed food that was grown and produced within 50 miles of our homes. But this world is not ideal, and I think that Aldi does a good job of making groceries affordable for the average family.
I asked that question too! The dairy all comes from dairies that aren’t very far from the stores, and they try to source produce as locally as possible (obviously avocados can’t be terribly local in my area, but my store often carries berries, melons, squashes, and other produce from nearby states). So, the apples at the Ohio Aldi store are likely not from the same orchard as the apples in a North Carolina Aldi. I think they mostly do this because it’s cost-efficient and helps to keep their produce fresh, but regardless of the reasons for it, I’m always happy to see local produce in a store.
Aldi has a lot of distribution centers so that the food doesn’t have to travel far to be delivered…this helps them to maintain higher standards of freshness.
I’m not sure where the ingredients for their packaged foods come from, though…I’m sorry!
I would love to shop at an Aldi’s but we don’t have one. Kristen, do you have any pull with Aldi’s to suggest they move into NM?! Thanks for the tour though.
At this point, Aldi only has US stores east of the Missisippi (edit: Apparently, I was mistaken on this, because a number of you said you live west of the Missisippi and you have Aldi stores. Whoops.) However, they’ve opened over 80 new stores this year alone, so perhaps they’ll expand westward in the future!
I’m new to your blog but am loving it. I do have a question about Aldi that maybe you can answer (maybe you already have and I missed it). I shop at Aldi fairly regularly but one thing that really bothers me is how they package their produce. It drives me crazy how some things (like peppers) are packaged on a styrofoam tray and then plastic wrapped. I hate buying anything that has styrofoam since it is so bad for the environment. I also see a lot of waste when one of the peppers in the container is bad but the other two are fine. The perfectly fine peppers go to waste because they are plastic wrapped to that terrible tray with the bad one.
I’d also like to see organic dairy, meat and produce options at Aldi. On your tour did they say anything about heading in that direction?
I hate that too, as I mentioned earlier. And I said so to the district manager that gave us a tour of the Aldi store. More naked produce, please!!!
I also told him that I would be delighted to never see another styrofoam tray in the product aisle.
They package a lot of their produce because it makes it faster to scan and also because the packaging protects the food by keeping it from getting bruised and banged up.
The manager I spoke with seemed slightly surprised that I disliked all the produce packaging, so perhaps they’re not hearing this message from their customers. If you hate the packaging, let them know! If enough customers speak up, maybe we can at least get them to reduce the packaging (just shrink wrap instead of shrink wrap AND a styrofoam container).
Traditional grocery stores are packaging more and more of their produce these days too, so it’s kind of hard to avoid. I love to buy unpackaged produce locally, but when that’s not available, I’m stuck at the grocery store. I try to faithfully buy the produce that Aldi does have unpackaged (cucumbers, avocados, grapefruits, mangoes, pineapples, pomegranates, pumpkins, melons, etc.), and I will also buy produce that comes packaged at every grocery store (outside of a farmer’s market, I’ve never seen naked grapes, berries, or grape tomatoes, and spinach always, always comes in a bag.)
I do try to avoid the unnecessarily packaged produce and buy that at Weis instead (I watch the sales there to make this less painful financially!)
We have two Aldis near us but both are not in the best neighborhoods. Nevertheless I decided to try it out after reading all of your recommendations and I didn’t care for them for that reason. Also, I don’t like the debit card/cash only aspect. I never ever carry cash (except on vacation) and we get a fee when we use a debit card. This is a much bigger deterrent than the neighborhoods (we use a credit card exclusively and pay off the balance each month in full b/c we get 2% cash back at the end of the year which is awesome). This post almost makes me want to see if I could find another store and maybe try it again though.
Aldi doesn’t accept credit cards because credit card companies charge merchants a fee every time a customer uses a credit card. It’s part of their cost-cutting business model. My debit card charges me a $0.25 fee when I use it at Aldi, so I try to carry cash with me. But! Even if I have to pay the $0.25, though I figure I’m still way money ahead for shopping at Aldi.
I LOVE Aldi! The prices are what drew me in, but I haven’t found one Aldi brand item that I’ve been dissatisfied with. I love how well they treat their employees and the fact that the same measures they employ to keep costs low are also efficient and adding to Earth sustainability. My question is: What about their meat? I have never purchased meat from there and I’ve heard other Aldi regulars say the same. I guess I assume maybe it’s lower quality, but maybe I just need to try it and see what I think.
I’ve actually never bought meat at Aldi before except for cured meats (bacon, bratwurst, ham) and seafood. I buy a quarter of a local cow for my beef needs, and I buy local, unpackaged chicken, so I don’t need to buy any of that at Aldi.
Based on my chicken sampling in Batavia, I’d say their chicken is good (better than Perdue for sure!), and the spiral ham we had was really tasty too. I have not tried their beef, so I can’t comment on that. The district manager said it sells relly well, though.
I live in the Chicago and would love to know which Aldi you visted (if you remember). I haven’t been to Aldi in quite a long time and the one on the NW side of the city I shopped at was just okay. I’d love to give it another shot!
I checked with someone at Aldi (I had no idea where exactly we were since I wasn’t driving and I was busy chatting it up with another blogger on our ride there!), and the store was in Clybourn. The address is 2600 N. Clybourn, Chicago , IL 60614
Go check it out! It’s the nicest Aldi I’ve ever seen and I’m super jealous that you can shop there.
Ok. I think that about covers it. I do have another post idea percolating in my head because I want to talk more about the concerns that Aldi only sells junk food, but that one is going to require a bunch of pictures, so it might be a little while in the making.
Today’s 365 post: Pumpkin Guts
Joshua’s 365 post: Another Jumping Spider!