When you love Aldi (and write about it) as much as we do, it's a treat to talk directly with the store's executives and see what's coming up for this cult favorite budget grocery store. We chatted with a couple team members this morning and learned a few things that were new — even to us!
1. Every single store is getting a makeover.
If your local Aldi is staring to feel a little stale, don't worry — it will be getting a makeover in the near future. Last year, 400 stores got the treatment and 400 more will get it this year. No Aldi near you at all? The chain will open 150 stores this year and have 2,500 stores in the United States by 2022 (there are 1,750 in 35 states now).
2. Even corporate execs have to work in the stores!
The head of marketing was telling us that when she started, she spent a week working in her local store before really settling into her corporate job. We interrupted and asked for more info. Turns out, everyone in corporate spends a full week working in a store in order to fully understand it. They unload trucks, stock shelves, help customers, the whole thing!
3. Their blind taste tests are ruthless.
At least once a year, Aldi staffers get together to do a blind taste test of their products against top competitors. They do it all (including green beans, cottage cheese, cereal, cinnamon rolls, etc.), and if it turns out one of their products isn't up to snuff compared to the rest of the lot, they figure out how to make it better.
4. Aldi is about to launch two new alcoholic options that we're excited about.
Yes, our meeting was before lunch. No, it didn't stop us from trying a new rosé and a pre-mixed mimosa. Both are launching on April 17 and will be available throughout the summer. They'll retail for $6.99 and $8.99, respectively. It's worth noting that the rosé was just as crisp and fruity as more expensive bottles we've tried and the mimosa is made with freshly squeezed orange juice and dry white wine (so it's not as bubbly as a standard mimosa but still yummy).
5. Some of the Aldi Finds are dupes for surprisingly luxurious brands.
Aldi executives are constantly on the lookout for brands or trends that are popular and then work to figure out a way to make similar products — at Aldi price points. For example, maybe you're familiar with Jo Malone candles, which are $65 at Nordstrom? Aldi has a version coming out under their Huntington Home line in time for Mother's Day — at just $6.99. "The scents are nearly the same and the quality is on par," a rep said.
6. For a budget grocery store, they are pretty competitive about product awards!
Like Trader Joe's, Aldi focuses on private label products. Some 90 percent of the brands sold at Aldi are exclusive to the stores. (These are the things that get taste tested!) They've got brands like Specially Selected (their German coffee!), SimplyNature, Little Journey (for babies and kids!), and more.
But these aren't just budget-friendly generic products. We discovered that Aldi REALLY cares about their awards! As competitive people, we get it and respect it. While you may have heard us talk about how some of their wine has won awards, lots of other stuff has, too. In fact, more than 200 products won awards during the last year (including a yummy guacamole we got to try!).
7. Three words: Wine. Advent. Calendar.
Remember last year when we wrote about Aldi's awesome wine advent calendar? We wanted one for ourselves but it was only available in the U.K. Good news, though: We got the inside scoop this morning that it may be coming to stores in the United States this year!