Why is ALDI so cheap?

Published on December 19, 2016 by Lauren

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  • I almost feel like ‘cheap’ is the wrong word. ‘Inexpensive’ is a more correct word I think. ‘Cheap’ can imply low quality, which is NOT true for ALDI. But, I’m splitting hairs. I get it. I digress. So, why is ALDI so cheap?

    Their entire vision and mission revolves around one guiding principle: “Great quality shouldn’t come at a high price; rather, great quality should come with everyday low prices.” [Source]

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    A better way to think about it might be to put it in the form of a question: How can we make all of our products have the lowest price with the highest possible quality? When a question like that is motivating a company, they will look at everything differently, and we will save money.

    why is aldi so cheap

    If you’ve asked yourself, “Why is ALDI so Cheap?” Well, here’s my top 5 reasons:

    1. Cost-Cutting Efficiency

    Typical grocery stores are laid out to maximize the amount of time that you stay inside of the store. Ever wonder why the milk is located at the furthest place possible from the main entrance? It’s to keep you there as long as possible.

    Everything about the layout and design of ALDI stores is focussed on efficiency (saving time and energy). Efficiency fro those who run the store, and for customers.

    why is aldi so cheap

    The boxes at ALDI are used for 3 purposes! Those boxes are used to ship the items, and also act as display – the employees simply rip off the front of the box and stack them for display. This makes shelf stocking simpler, faster, and easier. ALDI also does not give away shopping bags like pretty much every other grocery store. Most people bring reusable bags from home, which is better for the environment. Or you can buy them at a the register for like 6 cents a piece, or you can utilize the 3rd purpose of the ALDI boxes – grab an empty display box from around the store to use as your shopping “bag”.

    Seriously, empty boxes at ALDI are pure gold. But it doesn’t just help the consumers. People using the empty display boxes helps the employees by keeping the shelves clean and reducing their waste.

    ALDI stores are also smaller, so real estate costs are lower and utility costs are lower. They have High Efficiency lighting in many, if not all, of their stores. I know my local ALDI has solar panels covering their roof to help lower energy costs.

    Oh – and in case you’re interested, I’d LOVE to send you a FREE ALDI Meal Plan! 10 super easy meals prepared in about an hour for $80! Sign up right below:

    why is aldi so cheap

    2. High Volume Purchases

    Since there are fewer choices of products, more people are buying the same products. This means that ALDI can buy in larger volumes. So hypothetically, ALDI buys 1000 of their brand of mustard, giving them a volume discount. Instead of a typical grocery store that buys 200 of the expensive brand mustard, 300 of the middle-of-the-road stuff, and 500 of the cheap stuff. Larger quantities means lower unit price, for them and for you.

    Personally, I’ve come to actually really appreciate the lack of choice. When I go to my other local grocery store to buy egg noodles, for example, I’ve got choices. There are 2 or 3 brands, plus the store brand. And each of them come in 3 different widths. Geez – I just need egg noodles! I’m not buying a car.

    At Aldi, there are egg noodles. One type. That’s it. Take it or leave it. With basic products, lack of choice saves me a lot of time.

    3. ‘Private Label’ or Exclusive Brand Products

    At least 90% of ALDI’s products are their own exclusive brands. Doing this cuts out the middle man, which saves you money. This also gives them more control of the quality of their products. They run all of their products through their test kitchens and adjust as they see fit.

    Not that you’d need it, but since it’s their brand, they can offer a 100% refund plus replacement if you’re not fully satisfied. With only 1 brand of mustard to pick, your choices become easier and faster. Having their exclusive brands also means virtually zero advertising costs for their products. That savings is passed to you as well.

    why is aldi so cheap

    In my experience, ALDI is cheap on price, not quality.

    4. Fewer Employees

    Next time you’re at the usual non-ALDI grocery store, imagine how many employees are working at any given time. Figure 4-5 cashiers, 2-3 at the deli, 2-3 at the butcher, 2 for stocking, 3 for bagging, 1 for grabbing carts from the parking lot, a florist, a few bakers, and throw in 2 mangers. I’m at over 25, and I’m probably missing a few.

    At my local ALDI, in the middle of the day, there might be 5-6 employees working at any given time.

    Because of their efficiencies, they simply don’t need nearly as many employees. Shelf stocking is quicker with their display/packaging boxes. Their products have barcodes on up to 5 sides of the product, which makes scanning quicker. With people getting through checkout lines so quickly, there are fewer employees needed at checkout. Most ALDI stores have fewer than 10 employees total. Fewer employees means lower costs.

    5. Customers Pitch In

    “Do you have your ALDI quarter?”

    why is aldi so cheap

    This is a common phrase around ALDI regulars. ALDI shopping carts stay locked up in their cart corral and you have to deposit a quarter to unlock one for you to use. After you’re done, just return it to the corral to retrieve your quarter. Since customers are returning their carts themselves, there is no need to pay an employee to fetch carts from all over the parking lot. This also keeps rogue carts from smashing into your car. Carts staying locked up means fewer, if any, of them “walk off”, which means they don’t have to pay for replacement carts.

    Since customers supply their own bags, ALDI employees leave bagging to the customer. ALDI stores have a bagging area for customer to pack their own groceries. This also allows the checkout lines to go quicker, and removes the need for extra employees to bag for you. It’s an excellent trade-off.

    If someone said to me, “Would you be willing to bag your own groceries and return your cart if it meant you can save $50 on your grocery bill?” I wouldn’t even hesitate.

    So, why is ALDI so cheap? Because their entire business model revolves around reducing costs for everyone. To me, this is true customer service.

    ALDI’s focus on lowering my grocery bill without sacrificing quality is the best way they can serve customers and make healthy food accessible to more and more people. Want to learn 13 secrets about ALDI you probably didn’t know?


  • Another example, most whole wheat sliced bread has over 2g of sugar per slice but Aldis has less than 1 g per slice. And they’re so much cheaper than the store. So, better ingredients used and 50%+ cheaper, I’m a fan for life!

  • I thought as you did years ago — they just sell cheap food. So I bought expensive brand green beans elsewhere and Aldi’s green beans. (First off I should tell you there is no difference in taste.) I then opened both cans to compare size and # of stems in the can. Even though the size in the expensive size were all comparable with the Aldi’s can, there were twice or more stems on the beans in the expensive can. I don’t eat stems so that is added weight that costs me money. No more expensive brands for my house.

  • In Germany there is not even in the fanciest supermarket someone who bags your groceries.
    And nearly every supermarket locks its carts.
    But I love shopping there, too.
    It’s 470 ft beeline away from my home 😉

  • Went to Aldi today. I purchased a 4 oz. container of prosciutto, an 8 oz. block of mango habanero cheddar, a 4 oz. container of crumbled Feta cheese, an 8 oz.ball of fresh mozzarella and 6 ciabatta rolls in a bag…for $13.60!!!

  • They finally opened one about 20 minutes drive from my house. There was one next to my university that I went to so I went to the new location nearer to my house for nostalgic purposes and found myself buying dozens of items. Aldi is cheaper than Walmart with far superior quality. Many items are European made. I bought Brioche Bread made in France, Kalamata Olives packed in Greece, and a pepper mill made in Germany. Their Moser Roth chocolate is top quality. They used to carry something called Waffernuse made in Austria. They were the best but they stopped carrying them unfortunately. I’m not surprised that discount German grocer Lidl is launching in the US this year. I wonder if they will have similar quality.

    • About the waffernuse you probably were the victim of Aldi’s seasonal foods! At the holidays they carry many imported cookies, cakes, etc. but do not carry them year round. So just wait til November and you’ll probably see your favorites. I personally love the German cookies!

  • How is it so cheap.? Where are the ingredients coming from? What is the quality control? Are the laborers providing the food getting a fair wage? Is the food being adulterated as China is known to do?

    • yea this is a pro aldi article not going into the real statistics of there organization, and what about there long lines and no workers, I hat using there carts, they make me feel like I’m a criminal, also the price of plastic bags is cheap so there not really saving anything compared to what they lose from people like me who want bags

  • Man oh man I loves me some Aldi. Nothing I like better then getting all up in their with my Aldi, you know what I’m sayin? I grew up loving me some Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. Now, for reasons I can’t get into here, I was “away” for 15 years. Now I’m out and about and broke as a joke. So Aldis my peeps. Well, they ain’t got Frosted Flakes. But they have Dusted Flakes. Man I couldn’t tell the difference. And instead of Cheerios, they got Whirlyos. Same dang thing man. And instead of Fruit Loops, they got Fruity Loopers….dang man so good. And instead of Coco Puffs and the jingle Koo Koo for Coco Puffs, they got Loco Puffs, with the jingle Choo Choo for Loco Puffs….you dig. Good stuff peeps.

  • I’m hoping you see my comment I know this is an old blog post. But, I love shopping at Aldi’s and we are moving this summer to an area where the closest Aldi is over 80 miles away. Where would you recommend shopping?

  • Not the blogger, but i.thought I woukd share my experiences.

    If you are moving to an area with a sizable Asian population, look into Asian markets – for example Han Ah Reum (aka H Mart) or Lotte. Their produce prices are among the cheapest I’ve found in any grocery store with the possible exception of Aldi, and their selection and quality are top notch. The same is true of theur fish, and it is much fresher than anything you will get elsewhere including Aldi. Can’t really.comment on their meat. Unfortunately, you will probably have trouble finding many items that you were used to getting, due to differences in the preferences of Asian and typical American diets. Dairy is extremely limited, as are prefab breads and baked goods and Western-style processed foods in general. The condiments selection is largely geared towards Asian tastes as well, as are the selection of cleaning goods and household products. but for what they carry, they are excellent.

  • I love shopping at Aldi’s! I started shopping there when my kids were young and I had gone through a divorce. My oldest son always thought he was missing out on something because he was getting the Aldi’s version of Fruit Loops instead of the name brand. Now that he has a family of his own, he shops at Aldi for a good percent of their products. I can honestly say that there are many products Aldi sells that I prefer over the national name brands and would pay more money to get it over the national brand if that were the case. I have also removed far more stalk pieces from big brand vegetables than I ever have had to remove from Aldi’s brand. They are definitely high quality.

    After having shopped there for a number of years, I had started to think that their canned chicken noodle soups were skimpier, so I bought some Campbell’s brand for comparison. I went back to Aldi’s for their cans of soup because the Campbell’s brand had changed over the years since I had bought them and the number of noodles in their soup was much skimpier than it had been in prior years.

    There are some things that you may use that you won’t find at Aldi’s. I get my cat’s grain-free cat food at another store because Aldi’s, although they have started selling a good line of cat food, they don’t carry one that my cat likes and she is 15 years old so I get her a healthy food in her favorite flavor. You can’t come close to the price for cat litter either! I just can’t say enough good things about Aldi. If you haven’t shopped there, give it a try. If you have money to burn and the price is of no concern then you would still find many products at Aldi’s that you would love. You could have the maid pick it up :::smile:::

    There are two Aldi stores close to my home that I use depending on what errands I have that day and which direction I have to go. They are both remodeled stores and very clean. There is never a long line. I’ve noticed that when there are two customers waiting behind the one being checked out, they open another checkout line. Long lines used to be an issue many years ago when I had to drive 35 miles to get to the nearest Aldi store. I have not seen those long lines in many years. Even then they had all their registers open. Now that there are many more Aldi stores available, long lines are a thing of the past. The clerks are very helpful when you need assistance as well. As for the plastic bags, sometimes they are low on the plastic bags, but I think they are trying to encourage people to reuse and bring from home. Many times I just forget to grab my stash of bags from the pantry or I’m shopping on the fly while I was out and hadn’t planned it. The bags are strong and durable and will last a long time unlike the very think bags at the big name grocers. Their bags have ripped open on me many times from the back of my vehicle through the garage. It’s not fun to watch your milk run across the garage floor and down the drain lol.

  • Very informative article! My neighbor mentioned she shops at Aldi and prices are low a few years ago. I’ve always avoided Aldi because I assumed quality must be lacking somewhere. I took a chance about a month ago and after shopping between Aldi and my usual store, HEB, I’ve decided to go full on at Aldi from now on. You just can’t compete with the price, the process, people, and quality.

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