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Aug 30, 2006 05:43 PM

Aldi Food Stores-Meat quality? [moved from Chicago board]

Ok chowhounds, I feel the need to explain why I shopped at Aldi the other day. I shop there only for canned or frozen vegetables and European chocolates. I was really surprised at how ultra fresh the meat items appeared. I usually buy my meat at Costco, Paulina Meat market, JOe's, Riviera, Whole Foods, Happy Foods, Minelli's, etc, and occasionally from Jewel or Dominicks for their higher grade stuff. Does Aldi use that chemical that some grocers use to maintain that fresh look longer? I bought a pack of pork chops and baby back ribs two days ago and the meat still looks like it was processed today. I'm cooking for a date tonight and not sure if I should subject her to the mistery meat. Please advise.

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  1. Aldi's like Walmart, Costco or Sams gets their meat from large meat houses like IBP etc. They are very heavly dosed with salt. Saline solution. That's why they continue to look so fresh. Just take that into consideration when you are preparing and mind the salt. Otherwise you should be fine.

    2 Replies
    1. re: midwest eater 4578

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that meats and poultry that have saline solution added must be labeled as such.

      1. re: YoYoPedro

        You are correct! Plus add that beef is almost never stored in a saline.

        I cant speak to Aldi's meat quality, but you should feel confident on the USDA grades of meat; Select,Choice or Prime.

        The treatment I think you speak of has to do with carbon monoxide treatments. Not I think it's safe, but here is a link to mor info on the process:

        That being said, I have never thought of Aldi as a "high quality" grocer, but I don't suppose that the meat would be of any less quality than say a Mercado or small grocer.

        Cook it, and let us know how it comes out.

    2. Aldi more or less owns Trader Joe's...think that one over.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bobzemuda

        Sort of.

        this comes up every so's complicated.

        You have Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud, each owned by a brother (they split over whether or not to sell cigarettes in the stores and one has since passed away).

        The logos are similar enough to be very easily confused.

        Aldi Nord owns TJs and Aldi Sud owns the Aldi stores in the US.

      2. I know it's bizarre! And the two couldn't be more different eh?

        9 Replies
        1. re: abf005

          As far as my date last night, I decided on a homemade lemon viniagrete (sp?) over rommaine and tarragon herbed smoked chicken instead. I'll let you know how the pork chops go tonight. If Aldi is part of the same chain as Trader Joe's then I think the meat should be pretty decent. It has to be better than Jewel or Dominicks basic grade meat.

          1. re: amoncada

            Trader Joe's is basically the gourmet food division of Aldi. The purchasing for both is done by the same group of people, products for both are delivered to and stored in the same warehouses, and the same truck will deliver to both types of stores. What is different is the marketing, with TJ's marketing people being in California and Aldi's marketing people being in their US headquarters in Batavia IL (a far west Chicago suburb), and TJ's selling only specific types of products.

            If you look closely, however, you'll sometimes find the same product at both stores, the only differences being the label and the price. The Albrecht brothers aren't stupid...if they get a deal on a large quantity of something that qualifies for TJ's, they will sell as much as they can at a high price through TJ's, and the excess will be sold through Aldi at a much lower price.

            This is why I like to occasionally browse at my local Aldi. Well, that and for the chocolates, which are an incredible deal!

            1. re: markh

              Not quite correct, markh. In fact Aldi Nord owns Trader Joe's. Aldi Sud owns the Aldi grocery stores in the USA and although they share the Aldi name, each organization is separately managed and operated.

              "In 1961, the then-Aldi chain of supermarket stores split into two sister companies (each belonging to one of the brothers) over a dispute whether to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products at the checkout. Thus today, Aldi consists of Aldi Nord (Aldi North owned by Theo) (where tobacco sales were deemed to be acceptable) and Aldi Süd (Aldi South owned by Karl) (where they were not; however Aldi Süd began selling tobacco products in 2003). The chains initially covered the respective different regions of the then-West Germany. The companies have since expanded internationally, into other European, North American, and Australian markets. In principle, the two firms share nothing but the name and a similar corporate identity; however, they describe their relationship as a "friendly alliance" and there appear to be agreements between the two insofar that they do not compete directly with each other and (with the exception of Germany) never both operate in the same countries."

              "In the USA, Aldi Nord CEO Theo Albrecht owns the Trader Joe's chain of specialty grocery stores. However, it is not Theo but his brother Karl Albrecht's Aldi Süd that conducts Aldi's operations in the USA."


              1. re: YoYoPedro

                I have the choice of believing a Wikipedia entry about the most secretive large corporation in the world, or a friend who works for Trader Joe's and is based at the Aldi-US headquarters in Batavia. I think I will believe my friend.

                As I said above, the Albrecht brothers aren't stupid. This is the only country where they operate together, and since a great deal of money could be saved by consolidating the purchasing/warehousing/distribution operations, that is exactly what has happened.

                Anyway, no big deal, since the two stores don't compete against each other...

                1. re: markh

                  it's public record in Europe -- and government records trump your friend.

              2. re: markh

                To each their own. I've never met your friend, but so far I've been happy with Wikipedia's "version" of facts and knowledge. If you do a Google search for info related to the question, Wikipedia is not alone in their "version" of the facts, it was just the easiest "one source" citation. Cheers!

                1. re: markh

                  Makes me nuts that Trader Joe's is considered "gourmet"(whatever that means these days) by anyone.I buy a few nuts and berries there, olive oil and Greek Yogurt but consider ANY of their boxed, refrigerated prepared or frozen food to be a food REPLACEMENT or foodlike product and totally sub standard .

                  1. re: markh

                    I am a driver for Aldi in Wisconsin and have been for 3 years. Aldi and Trader Joe's are completely seperate entities. We don't have a Trader Joe's yet here in Milwaukee but the first one is currently being built and I will not be delivering there as an Aldi driver. Nor will any of the Trader Joe's good be stored at the warehouse I work out of. Also, I am at the Batavia, IL warehouse at least twice per week and their drivers don't service Trader Joe's either. As far as the fresh meat we handle is concerned, all the stores and drivers have very very strict guidelines to follow when handling it. I also as a driver pick up a majority of the products the stores handle. You would be surprised to find that many of the Aldi brands are the same as the name brands. For instance, I pick up soda from Dr. Pepper and cheese from Sargento. Aldi is a great value not only for the financially challenged but also for the affluent.

                2. re: abf005

                  There are more similarities than differences - few name brands except for special purchases, fewer skus, focus on high volume items ... Fanatical control over costs, even before TJs was sold to Aldi.

                3. The original comment has been removed
                  1. I know this post is old, but.....

                    I cannot stop shopping at Aldi. At first, my husband made fun of me. But, after he saw the savings and some of their international products, he is smitten. The only thing I've had to kind of watch is the produce department. However, I am in Kansas City and maybe that has something to do with it.

                    I like Aldi's frozen veg, butters, sour creams, eggs - CHEAP, CHEAP. I also love bringing my own bags which is great. I have had success with their spaetzle, cheeses, and hamburger meat. Sometimes they get some "wilc card" items in the frozen area, which is fun.

                    Aldi's is where it's at.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: stellamystar

                      Thanks for this post, we are just now getting Aldi here in central Fl, we shopped there in the early 80's when I lived in the Chicago area, and they were so so, I am looking forward to shopping there next week, if i can make the time.

                      1. re: jword2001

                        I think the OP is in my 'hood, so I'll add my $0.2. Around here, I think it depends on what Aldi. Maybe not, but some seem better than others, although I assume that's the same for most larger cities. I like Lincolnwood Fruit Market for meat (and fruit!). They have a real butcher guy. And I think both Dominick's and Jewel are outrageously priced, for meat in particular, although you can get some great deals in the bargain bins. You then should use them THAT DAY though. I will also go to Food For Less, although I usually don't like their meat, but great prices on pantry and frozen stuff and deli.

                        Aldi still prices out best for basics, though, eggs, milk, butter, noodles, rice, stuff like that.

                      2. re: stellamystar

                        ALDI is my happy place!!

                        After walking the isles of Publix, I get so upset at the prices that I leave with just the loss leaders. Same at some other chains. But when I step into ALDI I relax and am astounded at the quality vs. price ratio. I actually get happy shopping there. Everyone laughs when I tell them...but it is the truth...what can I say?

                        Here are my staples at ALDI: Bran Flakes $1.47 vs. Post at close to $5. And ALDI's tastes fresher. Dark chocolate w/hazelnuts...$1.89. Careful, the German made chocolates are highly addictive, since they are superbly made....and I'm from an area of the country known for the best chocolates.

                        ALDI STUFF RECIPE:
                        Oriental Stir-Fry veggies (frozen)...for about $2.39 I think. I use these with the frozen spinach rigatonis ($2.79 or so), several frozen chicken tenderloins ($5.99 or so), garlic from jar ($1) and Romano cheese ($2.89). I put them all into a stir fryer with some olive oil and when the chicken is partially cooked, I slice it with my spatula. When the chicken is cooked all the way, it is done. I can make about 8 meals from this portion for well uner $20 and the whole thing is done in under 10 minutes.

                        ALTERNATIVE: Of course, I do the oriental version too...with Thai Hom Mali rice (Aldi for under $3), a rice cooker from Aldi that was about $9, the same chicken and garlic, some of the sauce from the stir fry veggies and a jar of Red Basil Curry from World Market. Not sure if Trader Joe's has this or not, but Aldi only had this yellow curry sauce that was just so so.

                        I vary the ingredients according to how hungry I am or if I am watching my weight.

                        I have purchased the blender, a fabulous 3 cooking knife set (for $9.99), a 4 gig flash drive (for $9.99), food processor, glassware and bakeware. And get this: I find the $9.99 dress shirts to be better made than those at the department store. I've bought many shirts, pants and other clothing here.....oh, ties. Like $7 for ties that look like they came from Brooks Brothers.

                        The canned goods are crazy low. The quality is excellent, since they move through product very quickly. I buy black beans at 45 cents per can. Most veggies are under 40 cents. How about this? Solid white albacore tuna. It is like $3.79 typically in the grocery store. At Aldi, it is 97 cents. It is solid. It is white. It is albacore. What's not to like? Regular tuna is down around 57 cents a can.

                        Are you getting the picture yet?

                        Cheese, apple or berry strudels made in Italy are under $3 and drive everyone nuts when they come out of the oven. True the produce is marginal...unless it is in season. True the meat selection is meager at best. Meat quality is high though. I believe it to be fresher than most groceries.

                        The best thing is when they get a shipment of a food type. Oriental comes in all at once....Mexican comes in all at once...(and usually sells out within the first week)....Italian same thing...German, etc. The managers tell me about items that never reach the shelves, because people buy them all up before he can place them.

                        Oh! The almonds are the freshest tasting I've ever had....and are about $3.89 for a pretty large bag. Other nuts taste way fresher than the leading brands, making me think they have a different sort of supplier than what we are used to seeing.

                        Or it could be that distribution is more efficient, since I am told the same items ship to every store in pretty much the same quantities. For this reason, I try to shop in 3 or 4 different stores, rotating from one to the next. I found these German made spice cookies I can't remember the long name....only in one store. Did they sell out in all the others? I don't know. But I've bought 3 bags and am resolved to never dunk them. Otherwise, they are too addictive...and easy to over eat.

                        I've bought several toys for less than Toys R Us or Walmart. This is best when you know exactly what you want. In one case, I saved $30 over Toys R Us $109 sale price.

                        My wife is only partially convinced. She loves the quality when we eat it. But when I try and say that Aldi brands are as good or better than name brands, she argues with me. Go figure. I don't think I'll ever win that one. But now that she sees how much food we get there for $100 vs. anywhere else, she no longer gives me a problem with shopping there.

                        By contrast, $100 at Costco is not more than 20 items....usually extra large. Trader Joe's, not sure...haven't shopped there in a while. Whole foods.....forget about it. I would need $700 or $800 to buy the same things. They would probably be more organic (though Aldi carries organic items too) and might be better quality. But some would not be as good. Publix or Kroger ( I live in Nashville), would be $300 to $400 for the same amount of groceries, in my opinion.

                        Now, if I could just get Aldi to make a car....I'd be in heaven.

                        Herbs and herbal remedies would be nice, too....(since I don't take prescription medicines.)

                        1. re: randeis

                          I shop there often. Have had great luck with their butterfly pork chops. Cheaper and meatier then the big name store. Tried the ground beef and it was decent for the price.

                          I agree about their almonds. I also pick up trail mix and dried fruit. Their eggs are so cheap and good! I have to say on an average most of their items are great for the money, but I do avoid the produce. It just looks bad most of the time.