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Aldi's US$5-billion plan to fuel focus on fresh

German grocery giant is overhauling its merchandise in the U.S.

Already in the midst of a massive bricks-and-mortar expansion in the U.S., German grocery giant Aldi is now overhauling its merchandise, with 20% new products by next year.

In 2017, Aldi announced it would spend US$5 billion to renovate existing stores and build new locations—reaching 2,500 stores by 2022. The chain currently has more than 1,800 stores serving about 40 million customers a month. The company reportedly hopes the changes will lead to 60 million customers a month within two years.

The latest changes, announced Thursday, will see more fresh, organic and easy-to-prepare meals, possible thanks to expanded refigeration in the new and remodeled stores.

New grab-and-go options will include single-serve guacamole and organic hummus, plus fresh fruit and vegetable snack packs; more speciality drinks such as strawberry kefir and kombucha; and expanded meal starters such as quinoa bowls, premium pasta sauces and vegetarian options including meatless hot dogs and sausages.

“The continued success of our store expansion and remodel initiatives has given us the opportunity to carefully select and introduce new products that satisfy our customers’ increasing preferences for fresh items, including organic meats, salad bowls, sliced fruits and gourmet cheeses,” said Jason Hart, CEO of Aldi U.S., in a release. “We know people lead busy lives, so we’re making it even easier for them to purchase everything on their shopping list at Aldi, while still saving money.”

Other new new products announced Thursday include:

  • More ready-to-cook and organic fresh meats including organic chicken breasts;

  • Expanded produce selection, including veggie noodles and organic and ready-to-eat sliced fruits;

  • More vegan and vegetarian options, such as kale and quinoa crunch burgers, and chickenless patties and tenders;

  • More baked goods such as white and whole wheat pita breads, sourdough loaves and gluten-free bagels; and

  • Organic almond milk, coconut milk and a full range of lactose-free and soy milk. Aldi claims it will have “one of the country’s largest selections of private-label milk alternatives.”

While there are no reports that Aldi is looking to expand to Canada any time soon, its popularity in Europe and the U.S. make it an increasingly powerful player in the industry, considered a significant rival to Walmart and Amazon’s Whole Foods.

Long known for its low prices, smaller formats, no-frills in-store experience and reliance on private label products, Aldi’s recent changes in the U.S. seem to indicate growing focus on Whole Foods in particular, which has made moves to attract more price sensitive consumers since being taken over by Amazon.

Last year, Business Insider toured one of the new Aldi stores, describing it as “almost identical to Whole Foods' cheaper chain of stores called 365 by Whole Foods.” 





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