In 2017, Aldi announced they were planning
on becoming a major competitor in the US grocery
store market, investing a mind-blowing $3.4
billion into current and future American endeavors.
If you don’t have an Aldi near you now, one
might be popping up soon.
So, what can you expect?
Here’s the fascinating history behind this
up-and-coming US chain.
Mom and Pop shop
Aldi is a multi-billion dollar, global company,
but it started with a single grocery store
in Essen, Germany called the Karl Albrecht
Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop.
Karl Albrecht and his wife opened their doors
in 1913, but it wasn’t the elder Albrecht’s
first career choice.
It was only after emphysema brought his work
in the mines to a halt that he opened the
Their sons, Theo and Karl, took it over in
1945, and later took the company global.
And believe it or not, that original location
is still open today.
Both brothers served with Germany during the
war, and when they returned home, it was to
a post-war Germany that clearly had no use
for all the fancy extras that grocery stores
typically came with.
They developed their spartan business plan
based on what they knew post-war shoppers
wanted: a good product, full stocks, and affordable
Aldi is a different kind of grocery store
when it comes to staffing, and according to
their recruitment guidelines, there are only
four different positions they fill: store
manager, assistant store manager, store assistant,
Job descriptions on their site are frustratingly
vague, and according to people who have worked
there, that’s on purpose.
According to responses on Indeed, staffing
is kept to a minimum with only eight to 10
people being employed at each store.
This low level of staffing may be part of
the reason they’re able to keep prices so
low, but it also stresses out the employees.
More than 2,000 employees reviewed Aldi on
the UK employment site Glassdoor, and only
about half would recommend working there.
There’s a definite trend in what people have
to say, too, with employees saying that while
the pay, benefits, and opportunities are good,
they often found a difficulty in balancing
work life with their home life, and even getting
enough hours to make the money they needed.
Skimpy staffing and penny-pinching can be
seen all the way down to their shopping carts,
which shoppers have to pay a deposit to even
You’ll get the money back, as long as you’re
a good citizen and return the cart, but it
simply has to do with their bottom line.
When customers return their carts, Aldi doesn’t
need to pay someone to do it.
When they close at 9PM, earlier than many
grocery stores, they also save money on
staffing and overhead.
And when you see food in crates on shelves,
rather than the usual display, that’s also
to save bucks.
It just takes less time to put a whole box
of food on the shelf, which helps when you’re
required to clear a whole pallet of stock
in 30 minutes.
So if your bagboy seems stressed out, don’t
worry, it’s not your fault.
Today, there are actually two different Aldis:
Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud, or North and South.
In the 1960s, Theo and Karl Albrecht couldn’t
agree on whether or not they were going to
allow their stores to sell cigarettes.
So, instead of compromising, they divided
the company in half.
Theo took the north while Karl took the south.
You can tell the difference by looking at
the logo: North’s logo is a basic blue and
white, South’s logo is orange and blue.
It’s the southern Aldi that’s a bit fancier,
and when it came time to expand to the rest
of the world, those countries were divided
Stores in areas like the UK, Ireland, and
Australia are all Aldi Sud, while you’re shopping
at Aldi Nord if you go into France or Poland.
There’s only one country where Aldi Nord and
Aldi Sud share pieces of the grocery store
pie, and that’s in the US.
You wouldn’t know it, though, and that’s because
Aldi Sud does business as Aldi.
Aldi Nord goes by another name: Trader Joe’s.
Shocking, we know!
But Trader Joe’s is just an Americanized version
Many elements have changed, but some remain,
especially private labeling and a definite
lack of advertising.
It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?
In November 2010, hundreds of Aldi stores
across Germany created a major controversy…
over fresh baked bread.
According to Aldi, their “Backofen” machines
would spit out freshly baked rolls, made to
order, in a matter of seconds.
While Aldi claimed the machines were a “technological
innovation,” the German Bakers’ Confederation
said they were an affront to the country’s
centuries of baking traditions, and that Aldi
was outright lying about how fresh-baked the
bread really was.
By the time Aldi and the bakers met in court
in 2011, 1,770 Aldi Sud stores were equipped
with the machine.
Courts ordered Aldi to let them inspect the
machines, but Aldi said no, saying that they
were protecting trade secrets.
The German Bakers’ Confederation claimed false
advertising and accused Aldi of skimping on
It’s not all bad food news, though.
For your health
Despite the controversies surrounding Aldi’s
business practices, they’ve also made some
unquestionably positive moves in the interest
of public health and the environment.
In 2015, Aldi announced they would no longer
manufacture or sell products with partially
hydrogenated oils, artificial and synthetic
coloring, or added MSG.
According to CEO Jason Hart, about 90 percent
of the products sold at Aldi are their own
brand, so that gives them some serious control
over the ingredients in the food they sell.
If you haven’t noticed a difference yet, you
They didn’t make the announcement until after
they’d already done it.
But that’s not all.
In 2016, Aldi announced that any suppliers
who wanted to keep selling their products
to the grocery chain needed to phase out any
and all pesticide-containing chemicals that
were harmful to bees by 2017.
Their requirements went above and beyond the
partial ban previously written into law by
You like honey?
And, well, every fruit and vegetable ever?
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