ALDI Grocery Store Tour and Insider Secrets
Regular Mommysavers readers know that I’ve been and ALDI fan for a long time. I was originally lured in to their store by the low prices, but I stuck around because of the high quality. After visiting their headquarters and store in Batavia Illinois last week, I’m a SUPER FAN! Here’s a recap of the events and what I learned.
Switch and Save in the ALDI Test Kitchen
During our stay I participated in a fun ALDI Switch-and-Save event with several other bloggers. We compared ALDI products with their name-brand competitors in a blind taste test. In almost all of the cases, I could either not tell a difference or preferred the ALDI product. Honestly, I was surprised. I thought ALDI food was good, but I didn’t realize I’d prefer it to more expensive brands!
The ALDI test kitchen is meticulous about developing products that meet or exceed the standards set by national brands. Their products undergo third party testing before being introduced to the marketplace. ALDI is so confident you’ll like their products, they offer a money-back guarantee if you don’t.
Holiday ALDI Holiday Tasting and Food Styling
A fun part of our evening was the ALDI holiday tasting event. The experts in the ALDI test kitchen served up some gourmet-quality dishes, including Party Poppers as a starter, Roasted Turkey Breast with Pumpkin Sage Gravy, Individual Au Gratin Potatoes and Gooey Caramel Pumpkin Cake (view all of our ALDI recipes).Food stylist Janice Stahl gave us tips on how to prepare elegant table settings on a minimal budget. Janice has been working as a caterer and food stylist for many years, and loves ALDI foods. She uses them in almost all her jobs! Her tips include:
- Use white plates and linens for simplicity. They go with any occasion!
- Experiment with textures, shapes and colors to add visual interest to the table. Berries add an elegant touch without breaking the bank.
- Deconstruct prepared foods like pies and place them in clear glass cups, which is very on-trend this season.
- Glass hurricanes are great for table centerpieces. Fill with fruits, candies, nuts or seasonal decorations.
- When people ask what to bring, have an answer prepared! Include that in your planning process. Easiest for guests to bring? Appetizers and desserts.
ALDI Grocery Store Tour
For me, the store tour was the most informative part of our ALDI experience. It really helped me understand how ALDI can offer low prices by cutting costs everywhere in their logistical process without compromising quality. ALDI regional VP Scott Patton lead the tour, explaining how products are selected, items are shelved, and even how the cashiers can check out customers so quickly (for more information on those things visit the links below). Because all these processes have been streamlined, ALDI runs a very tight ship and can pass along their savings to the customer.
Why is ALDI so much cheaper than other supermarkets?
- ALDI stores offer a narrow selection of 1400 high-volume products as opposed to the typical 40,000 or more by supermarket giants. Because they only offer products with high turnover, their overhead is lower. Perishable products like milk, meats and produce arrive 5-7 times per week, so there’s no need to rotate inventory for freshness.
- No coupons or credit cards are accepted. Debit cards are accepted.
- Customers “rent” a cart by depositing a quarter, and return it at the end of their trip which eliminates the need for ALDI associates to corral them.
- ALDI employees well-trained to multi-task. Only 3-4 employees are required per shift, which helps keep cost down. They are put to use in all areas: stocking, cleaning, and checking out. They work hard, but are compensated well. In the Chicago area, ALDI associates start at $12.65 per hour. Plus, part-time employees with as few as 20 hours per week are eligible for medical and dental coverage.
- Stocking the shelves is also much faster. Products don’t have to be taken out of the box at ALDI. Boxes are designed with colors that blend in with the product packaging – an effort known as the ”invisible case” project. Heavier things like flour and sugar are left on the pallet. Milk arrives on racks so that 80 gallons can be shelved in just five seconds.
- Stores use energy-efficient refrigeration and lighting. New stores use a lot of natural lighting; older stores are being retro-fitted with energy efficient lighting.
- Produce is individually packaged and sold by the unit to avoid weighing at checkout.
- Sale signs are reusable and can be changed manually.
- At ALDI, the checkout process moves at lightning speed. Since ALDI stocks their own private label items, they also design the packaging for optimal efficiency. With 3-6 large UPCs on each package, scanning is much quicker.
- Customers purchase bags (or bring them from home) and bag their own groceries.
Back at ALDI headquarters, the bloggers went head-to-head in a guacamole making competition. This was especially fun for me, since Top Chef is one of my favorite shows (this was the closest thing to participating in a “quick fire” competition I’ll ever get). I created a BLT version with bacon, lettuce, and tomato adding flavor and flair. I thought it was delicious, but sadly it didn’t win. 🙁
After all the action, we departed for the airport with full stomachs, new friends, and an overwhelming desire to hit ALDI as soon as we got home. Thanks, ALDI!
DISCLOSURE: ALDI sponsored my trip to this event. All opinions are my own and unedited by the sponsor. Have questions about ALDI? Post them in this discussion thread: Questions about ALDI and I’ll answer them personally.