The Reason Aldi's Meat Is So Cheap

The discount supermarket Aldi is known for saving customers money when they're stocking up on groceries, but when it comes to its meat, some patrons have been scratching their heads trying to figure out how the prices could be so low. People rarely flinch when they get a discount on items where large margins are assumed, like multivitamins or coconut oil, but cheap meat feels like a devil's bargain. Are costs so low, you're going to give up some level of quality or safety? Thankfully, this isn't the case.


Aldi's meat is priced lower than its competitors for a few reasons — one of which is that the affordable market doesn't sell many name brands. When you buy a Cargill steak, you are paying for the beef and the name of one of the largest meat suppliers in the country on the package, and it's the same with other sizable distributors as well, like Tyson and Sysco. Aldi regularly brings in protein from companies many have likely never heard of, which translates to a lower-cost item. The purposeful lack of brand names distinguishes Aldi as an affordable alternative to traditional grocery stores, but the discounts customers get on meat also have to do with Aldi sourcing its products locally.

When meat doesn't travel as far, it's cheaper

Most of Aldi's meat is sourced from regional farms, which because its transported a shorter distance, comes at a lower cost. The discount grocery requires that its beef only come from cattle born and raised in a store's local area, and it takes multiple suppliers to meet these high standards for its 2000 locations across 36 states in the US. Because it costs less to deliver the beef to each store, the product the customer sees is generally cheaper than other chain supermarkets. Tyson furnishes Aldi with its chicken, but when the store receives the poultry it repackages it under its own brand, Kirkwood. However, you won't see any of this happening behind the butcher's counter because Aldi doesn't have one. 


Another reason its meat is so inexpensive is the German-owned chain has lower operational costs than many of its competitors. There is no butcher or deli counter available for specialty cuts of meat, and the stores typically operate with only six to eight employees at any given time. Fewer employees to pay becomes more savings for consumers. The lack of name brands and low operational costs lets customers keep more money in their wallets. 

However, Aldi has also had its fair share of complaints about the quality of its protein. While some products tend to fly off the shelves, others still receive skepticism even from loyal Aldi patrons.

Quality issues with some Aldi meat

Some may have heard about the Aldi horse meat incident in Europe years back, where packaged ground beef contained as much as 30% of it, but horse meat was officially banned in the U.S. in 2007, so you can rest assured that the store doesn't sell it. However, there are a few products that have a reputation for being low quality from the discount chain. Chicken in particular is one of the Aldi meats you might want to avoid. The breasts and thighs often need to be trimmed before they can be cooked, and they sometimes contain pieces of bone that need to be removed. Some Reddit users have described the chicken breasts from Aldi as being woody and fibrous, but scores of others didn't notice any difference in quality with competing retailers. 


Other proteins get higher marks from customers. The USDA Choice Black Angus Beef is regularly praised for its quality and usually flies off the shelves once it arrives in-store, and Aldi's "Never Any!" brand of meat products — with no antibiotics or added hormones – get equally high praise. When shopping at Aldi, you will almost certainly walk out with more money than if you had shopped at a regular chain supermarket, but arriving home with the best products requires knowing what to buy and what to avoid. After all, even if you get an unbelievable deal on chicken thighs, it's still money wasted if the meat is no good.