Aldi is quietly becoming one of the most-respected grocery chains in America.
Based on a survey of more than 20,000 consumers, BrandSpark declared Aldi the most trusted discount grocer in the U.S. for 2023.
The “no frills” Aldi also earns a most trusted ranking for affordability in the BrandSpark survey.
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 “10 of the Best 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 reclosable sandwich bags so you don’t have to. The bottom line? Walmart’s Great Value sandwich bags are cheaper, as we detail 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 Johnstons love 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 Johnston 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 also 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. Aldi’s selection of locally produced products is generally lacking, according to Consumer Reports.
Aldi shines, however, 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 for its store-prepared fresh foods. That can include, for instance, freshly made salads, deli sandwiches and whole roast chickens prepared in stores.