Aldi has built its reputation on a bare-bones approach to grocery shopping that gives shoppers prices lower than what they might find at larger stores, as they’ve been able to sell almost all of their products at lower prices by using numerous strategies that keep prices low. For example, when 90 percent of the products in stock are Aldi’s own private label, the prices are simply going to be a lot cheaper (via Business Insider).
What about meat, though? Is it any good? And really, how is it exactly that Aldi is able to still make a profit and sell those unbelievably cheap bits of beef, chicken, and fish?
Aldi has a smaller selection and a smaller store staff
A big part of Aldi’s secret to success is keeping things on the small side. This goes for both the staff they employ as well as the number of products that they keep in stock. If you’re on the hunt for a rack of lamb or some unusual cut of wagyu beef, you’re probably not going to find it at Aldi. Fewer meat products in stock means fewer chances of food waste as well, and there will be lower overhead costs for stocking a smaller product inventory.
Aldi is also known to keep costs low by keeping less staff on hand and having each person take on multiple roles. According to Indeed, it’s not uncommon for an Aldi store to only have around 10 employees. Fewer people to pay means there are fewer business-related costs that get passed on to the customer.
Aldi avoids big brands and tries to buy local
According to Taste of Home, one reason that Aldi is able to sell its meat at lower prices is that it chooses to buy from regional farms. This, of course, means that the company doesn’t have to pay the extra expenses that might come with choosing a meat supplier that’s hundreds of miles away.
Just like the snacks, coffee, and other food items in stock at Aldi, it all comes down to avoiding those big brand names. Whereas a grocery store like Publix is almost always going to have products like Boars’ Head or Tyson chicken in stock, Aldi opts for lesser-known brands or its own house brands such as Appleton Farms (via I Ate Oklahoma).
"If you are hell-bent on having a certain brand, you may not find that, but what we’re offering is the same quality or better," Aldi director of operations Tom Cindel said. "And we tested for that incredibly carefully."
They don’t use in-store butchers
If you shop at a large grocery store, there’s a good chance that you’ll find a butcher working in the meat department, or at least a deli counter with somebody ready to slice up some fresh cold cuts. That doesn’t seem to be the case at Aldi. The company’s website makes no mention of in-store butchers, and you won’t find any salaries for a deli counter associate or butcher at Aldi on Indeed. While this means that getting a filet mignon trimmed to your exact specifications might not be possible, it does mean that your ground chuck is probably a little cheaper than what you might find at Walmart or Trader Joe’s.
Supermarket butchers start out at around $30,000 a year, and if Aldi doesn’t have to pay for one in each store, they can pass those savings on to the customer (via Houston Chronicle). "Behind the scenes of traditional grocery stores, everything you do gets added to the cost of the product," Cindel explained. "Operating a deli or pharmacy is built into the price of that — but not at Aldi."
Customers like the cheap meat selection
With limited choices, one might think that customers would tend to overlook or be suspicious of Aldi’s cheap meats, but that’s not the case. Hitting up Aldi for a cookout may not be everybody’s first choice, but a lot of folks have praised their meat selection. "I was really surprised at how ultra fresh the meat items appeared," one person said on the Chowhound message boards. "I bought a pack of pork chops and baby back ribs two days ago and the meat still looks like it was processed today."
Another customer on Reddit said that they did notice a difference in the taste of Aldi’s met compared to Kroger, "… but not necessarily in a bad way." Other people compared the meat quality to what you might find at Wegmans.
While Aldi may not have a huge selection of meat in its stores, it’s certainly worth checking out if you just need some basic meats — and don’t want to spend a lot on them.