Aldi is a lifesaver for shoppers on a budget. With its no-frills attitude and deep discounts, the grocery chain is a favorite among folks looking to save cash.
But sacrificing cost doesn’t mean sacrificing quality. Some of this store’s cheapest products are among the tastiest we’ve had.
If you’ve never visited Aldi, now’s the time. Keep reading to learn more about this budget-friendly store and find a nearby location.
What Is Aldi?
Aldi is a discount grocery store with a dedicated following. Thanks to its lean business model, the chain’s prices routinely fall below its competitors. It prides itself on cutting costs and passing the savings on to its customers.
The chain cuts costs in a few ways. Shoppers won’t find services like banking or in-store pharmacies at Aldi. Additionally, most products are proprietary brands, shelved in their shipping boxes. The store also doesn’t offer free grocery bags, encouraging people to bring their own. Because they cut some corners, customers reap the benefits.
Originally called Albrecht Discount, the store became known as Aldi in 1961. The first Aldi in America opened in Iowa in 1976. Today, there are over 2,000 stores in the U.S. The chain has locations in 39 states and employs more than 25,000 people.
Pro Tip: Grab these 7 Aldi Brand Foods That Are Better Than Name Brands on your next shopping trip.
Why Did Aldi Split?
After inheriting a small shop from their mother, Karl and Theo Albrecht opened Albrecht Discount in 1946 in Essen, Germany. Their shop offered shelf-stable goods at deep discounts.
After a near-collapse of the German economy following World War II, shoppers eagerly took advantage of their low prices. The shop was so successful that the brothers opened four more within two years. Continual growth meant that by 1960 there were 300 locations in Europe.
But in 1962, a problem arose. Karl and Theo reached a stalemate after arguing over whether or not the stores should sell cigarettes. Sadly, the brothers’ never resolved their disagreement, and the company split in two. Following the split, they created a dividing line nicknamed the “Aldi Equator,” and each brother took half. Accordingly, Theo took charge of Aldi Nord (or “Aldi North”), and Karl claimed Aldi Sud (or “Aldi South.”)
Today, the “Aldi Equator” also applies to other parts of the world. Interestingly enough, the brothers divided up specific countries to share. Sud operates stores in Australia, China, and the U.K., while Nord runs shops in France, Denmark, and Poland.
What Is Great About Aldi?
Aldi’s low prices are a massive part of its appeal. But there’s more to this discount giant than its savings.
Despite its thrifty reputation, Aldi invests in sustainability. Stores usually stock fresh–and often local–produce. Employees restock the produce section daily, ensuring high-quality fruits and vegetables. The chain also sells sustainably-sourced seafood and offers fair trade and Rainforest Alliance-certified products.
Another great thing? This grocer is committed to customer satisfaction. Aldi operates its own test kitchens, where every product gets tasted and approved before hitting shelves. It also offers an incredible return policy: unhappy customers receive refunds and a product replacement.
Is Aldi Owned by Trader Joe’s?
You’ll be surprised to learn about the connection between Aldi and Trader Joe’s. Their relationship started over 40 years ago!
Trader Joe’s founder Joe Coulombe sold his cult-favorite grocery chain to Theo Albrecht in 1979. Even in the 1970s, Trader Joe’s was already wildly popular. The Albrecht brothers saw the store as a good investment opportunity.
However, the Albrecht family has taken a hands-off approach with Trader Joe’s. The chain continues to operate independently, retaining its own brand identity. Coulombe even stayed on as the CEO until his retirement.
Where Does Aldi’s Food Come From?
Many of Aldi’s products come from around the world. China, Germany, Thailand, and the U.K. are just a few countries that provide products for the chain. Many shelf-stable items routinely found at U.S. locations are produced within the country. Each item’s label contains its country of origin.
However, nearly all of Aldi’s produce is sourced locally. Dairy items like milk and eggs come from regional sources; even the store’s meats come from nearby producers. Aisle of Shame, the company’s unofficial fan blog, provides detailed information on these suppliers.
Manufacturing is a different question. The chain’s in-house brands make it tough to tell where certain products came from. But according to Aisle of Shame, quite a few non-perishable items are manufactured at the plants that provide brand-name foods. Your favorite Aldi-brand crackers and cereals are probably made at the same factories churning out Ritz and Cheerios.
Pro Tip: Want to mix up your grocery haul? Find out Which Grocery Chain Has the Best International Food Section?
Is There One in Every State?
There isn’t one in every state, but 39 out of 50 isn’t bad. If you live in the U.S., there’s probably a location near you. There are currently 2,278 locations in the U.S., mainly in the eastern half of the country.
In addition to Aldi’s U.S. headquarters, Illinois has 211 stores, the highest number of any state. There are 33 locations in Chicago alone. Other cities with high numbers of stores include Saint Louis, Houston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Orlando. The chain now surpasses Publix in the total number of stores.
Check out the store locator on Aldi’s website to find your nearest location.
Aldi is Awesome
For budget-conscious shoppers, Aldi is one of the best options out there. The company’s no-nonsense philosophy keeps its prices incredibly low. At the same time, its products are some of the tastiest on the market.
There’s a reason this grocery store has its own fan club.
Go explore the store closest to you and find out for yourself!
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