Aldi lifted its veil of secrecy for one day in 2013, inviting Telegraph journalist Tom Rowley to the chain’s United Kingdom headquarters. Today, it’s worth digging into what Rowley found, as Aldi has become so much more ubiquitous and such a more popular shopping option here in the U.S.
Assuming the 2013 standards still hold, twice a day, Aldi’s buyers visit the store’s test kitchen to sample each product before it can hit shelves. This team ends up sampling about 180 meals per week, one buyer named Julie Ashfield told The Telegraph. They also try each item a whopping 30 times before it can meet customers in the aisles, and then, just to ensure the quality never wanes, they continue to sample these products at least once a year, plus any time another grocery store chain introduces anything similar.
The buyers actually test potential Aldi items against two “benchmarks,” comparable products from rival stores. Food and drink items are scored from one to five for how they look, feel, and taste. If anything receives a less than stellar score, it goes back to the drawing board and must be tested again after the recipe’s been adjusted. This rigorous process can explain why shoppers have come to love Aldi products so much, and how they can boast high quality at low prices. “Discount stores used to be places where people needed to shop,” Aldi Managing Director Tony Baines pointed out to The Telegraph. “Now people actually want to shop here.”