Aldi is quietly becoming one of the most-respected grocery chains in America.
In its latest ranking of grocery stores, Consumer Reports awarded Aldi 84 of 100 possible points for overall satisfaction. That puts it just behind some of the nation’s most beloved grocers. Trader Joe’s, for comparison, earned an 87 and Costco received an 86.
The “no frills” Aldi earns a perfect CR score of 5 out of 5 for competitive prices. CR also points to the chain’s store cleanliness, for which Aldi earned a 4 out of 5.
Aldi falls down, however, in several areas, according to our sources, which include Aldi experts, consumer watchdogs and our reporters’ experiences.
1. Premium bacon
The all-about-Aldi blog Aldi Reviewer was co-founded in 2016 by husband-and-wife team Rachael and Joshua Johnston, who are longtime and avid Aldi shoppers.
The Johnstons like the flavor of Aldi’s Appleton Farms Premium Sliced Bacon. But there’s more to consider than taste alone.
“We’ve received dozens of comments and emails over the years complaining about poor slicing or disproportionate amounts of fat,” they tell Money Talks News. “If in doubt, look elsewhere.”
For better bets at Aldi, check out “My 7 Favorite Things to Buy at Aldi.”
2. Avocado oil
The reputation of the avocado as a healthy food might make you crave avocado oil, a relatively new grocery product. It’s full of minerals, vitamins and healthy fats.
But in a review of seven brands by ConsumerLab.com, Aldi’s Simply Nature 100% Pure Avocado Oil was the only one that didn’t earn ConsumerLab.com’s approval. The company, which independently tests the quality of health and nutrition products, said of Aldi’s brand:
“[I]ts fatty acid profile did not fully match that of avocado oil, suggesting adulteration with another oil.”
3. Facial scrub and cleanser
Aldi changed its line of facial cleansers in 2020, and when it comes to the Lacura Cleansing Exfoliating Scrub and Lacura Foaming Gel Cleanser, the Johnstons have found the results largely disappointing.
“We’ve gotten many complaints — including from our own teenage daughter — about how badly they both dry out the skin. Not what you want in a facial cleanser,” the bloggers say.
4. Sandwich bags
We’ve done the math on Aldi’s sandwich bags so you don’t have to.
“Every time I have done the per-unit math, Walmart’s Great Value sandwich bags have been cheaper than Aldi’s Boulder sandwich bags,” says Money Talks News managing editor Karla Bowsher.
Walmart’s bags are cheaper even than the ones Costco sells, she reported in “9 Things I Won’t Buy at Costco.”
5. Name brands
Store brands typically offer more for your money, and more than 90% of Aldi’s products are house (or “private-label”) brands.
“One reason [Aldi’s] prices are so low is that a majority of the groceries it carries are private-label,” affirms Business Insider.
However, shop beyond these private-label products, and you might end up digging more deeply into your purse or wallet.
At Aldi, “not only are these [name brands] usually overpriced, you can’t use coupons on them to save more money,” says blogger MoneySavingMom.
6. Condensed tomato soup
The Johnston family loves a bargain, but they will draw the line when necessary. Case in point: tomato soup.
Aldi’s Chef’s Cupboard Condensed Tomato Soup doesn’t compare with Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup, they say. All four family members prefer Campbell’s; they find it richer, creamier and smoother.
As Joshua Johnston concludes on Aldi Reviewer:
“If you need cheap, Aldi is the place to go. But in this instance, if quality is your top priority, then we think name brand is the way to go.”
7. Cat litter
Aldi’s Heart to Tail Scoopable Cat Litter doesn’t make the grade, according to the Johnstons. Not only is it dusty — a nightmare for housekeeping — it flunks the smell test.
“It doesn’t do a very good job either with odor control or clumping. We go with name brands in both cases,” the Aldi Reviewer’s founders say.
And it’s not just the Johnstons: The vast majority of comments on their review of Aldi’s cat litter echo their complaints about bad odors and lack of clumping.
8. Canned sausage
Aldi’s Brookdale Vienna Sausage has something of a cult following among preppers — folks dedicated to stockpiling supplies and preparing for disaster. But these canned sausages taste “salty and weird,” the Johnstons say.
“It’s hard for me to see them as much more than an emergency food, and even then there are probably better options,” Joshua Johnston adds.
9. Locally produced products
Shopping for locally grown and crafted goods? Try local food cooperatives, farm stands and farmers markets. A sore point for Aldi in Consumer Reports’ ranking was its score — just 1 of 5 possible points — for its selection of locally produced products.
Aldi shines, however — earning 4 of 5 possible points — for its prices on organic products.
10. Disposable shopping bags
Unlike many stores, Aldi doesn’t give shoppers free bags at checkout. You bring your own or buy disposable or reusable shopping bags.
Aldi’s FAQ explains that “we not only save our customers money — by avoiding adding the cost of the bag to our prices — but also precious resources.”
Don’t get stuck paying for a disposable grocery bag, though. Plan ahead and bring your own for free. Or, if you don’t own reusable shopping bags, buy some reusable bags at Aldi rather than paying for disposable bags that aren’t made to last.
11. Store-prepared fresh foods
Aldi earns a rock-bottom low grade from Consumer Reports — only 1 of 5 possible points — for its store-prepared fresh foods.
That can include, for instance, freshly made salads, deli sandwiches and whole roast chickens prepared in stores. The chain says it has increased its fresh food offerings since 2018, but Consumer Reports, in its 2019 assessment, wasn’t impressed.