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Affordable Simplicity

ALDI, the 2021 ‘Snack Producer of the Year,’ brings affordable clean-label snacking to America.

Douglas J. Peckenpaugh, Group Editorial Director

Product purchase and consumption patterns in America point toward a desire for affordable simplicity in our foods. This has catalyzed ongoing product development efforts to meet increasing consumer demand for natural and organic snacks. And efforts to bring cleaner snacking options to more Americans find increased success when retailers can offer such simplified products at affordable price points.

This strategic alignment of product characteristics fits neatly within the corporate framework at ALDI U.S., which has its headquarters in Batavia, IL. ALDI’s Simply Nature line of exclusive brand natural and organic foods is home to a great variety of unique and on-trend snacks, making clean-label snacking a possibility for most Americans. In recognition of this groundbreaking work on its Simply Nature line, along with other forward-thinking corporate initiatives that bring refreshing perspectives to today’s food industry, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery is delighted to honor ALDI as its “Snack Producer of the Year” for 2021.

“We are very honored by this award and appreciate the recognition of our Simply Nature line,” says Joan Kavanaugh, vice president, national buying, ALDI U.S. “Simply Nature has grown quite a bit since it was first launched in 2014 when we saw a need for cleaner, healthier products at an affordable price point.”

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Courtesy of ALDI U.S.

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In 1976, ALDI entered the U.S. retail grocery industry with a single store in Iowa City, IA. Additional store openings followed in quick succession, and the momentum hasn’t stopped. ALDI now has more than 2,100 stores across 37 U.S. states, employing over 40,000 people—and more stores are added every year. In February 2021, ALDI announced that it would open approximately 100 new locations nationwide through the year, with a focus on Arizona, California, Florida, and the Northeast. ALDI is currently building a new regional headquarters and distribution center in Loxley, AL to serve expansion in that part of the country. In recent years, ALDI has invested more than $5 billion in a nationwide growth and remodel initiative to update existing stores and to open hundreds of new locations. By the end of 2022, ALDI is poised become the third-largest grocery retailer in the U.S. based on total store count.

The discount retailer is also expanding its e-commerce offerings, including addition of Curbside Grocery Pickup service to 500 additional stores before the end of 2021, bringing the total number of curbside locations to more than 1,200 stores.

ALDI’s impressive growth demonstrates a strong resonance with U.S. consumers, and a big part of that attraction is its extensive work on exclusive brands. Roughly 90 percent of the groceries ALDI offers come from its diversified lines of exclusive brands, a range of essential and unique foods carefully selected and curated by ALDI’s team of category buyers.

ALDI secures its exclusive brand products in high volumes. It also maintains a streamlined retail store concept. These efforts allow the chain to set low price points for its brands—but not at the expense of quality, a rubric maintained since the company’s founding.

This approach keeps customers coming back. And ALDI backs its exclusive brand products with a “Twice as Nice Guarantee.” If a customer is not completely satisfied with their purchase, they can always bring it back to the store where ALDI will replace the product and refund the customer’s money.


Batavia, IL



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Simply Nature Snack & Bakery Products

Chips, Popcorn, Pretzels, Puffs, Crackers, Cookies, Beef Jerky, Nuts, Bars, Breads

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According to the 2021 “Food & Health Survey” from the International Food Information Council (IFIC), consumers perceive health differences even when two products have the same Nutrition Facts label. Specifically, when products have “chemical sounding ingredients,” products that are “all natural” have a healthier perception. Also, the survey reinforced that more than half of the U.S. population (58 percent) snack at least once per day.

In many ways, organic is the ultimate “clean label” for U.S. consumers, and organic is on the rise. During 2020, U.S. organic sales increased by a record 12.4 percent to $61.9 billion, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), Washington, D.C. OTA notes this is the first time total retail sales of organic food and non-food products have surpassed the $60 billion mark, and the 2020 sales rate was more than twice the growth rate seen in 2019.

And while IFIC notes in its 2021 survey that taste is still the No. 1 consideration influencing product purchase, with 82 percent of consumers citing it as the most-important aspect, price follows next, with 66 percent ranking a product’s price as most important.

Americans want more natural and organic foods, but they seek affordable options. And that’s a perfect fit for ALDI.

Photo: Douglas J. Peckenpaugh

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The Simply Nature line made its debut at ALDI’s U.S. stores in 2014. Simply Nature features simple food products made with only non-GMO, all-natural, and/or organic ingredients. Buyers source products for the Simply Nature line that are free from a list of 125 forbidden artificial or synthetic ingredients. Available products through the years have included cereals, bars, pizza, breads, and a wide variety of everyday and innovative salty snacks. To ensure its exclusive brands like Simply Nature meet or exceed the taste and quality of prevailing national brands, ALDI conducts rigorous testing.

ALDI didn’t focus all of its clean-label efforts on the Simply Nature line. The retailer followed the debut of Simply Nature with an announcement in 2015 that it was working to reformulate all of its exclusive-brand products to remove certified synthetic colors, added monosodium glutamate (MSG), and partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). ALDI also maintains a strong selection of other natural and organic foods at its stores.

These efforts have garnered widespread attention. As of January 2021, more than 100 of its Simply Nature products have earned the Good Housekeeping Nutritionist Approved Emblem, a designation developed to help consumers lead healthier lives by empowering them to make informed food choices, according to the media outlet. The designation applies to foods designed with health-consciousness in mind—but also practicality.

Then in July 2020, ALDI announced that for the 10th consecutive year, it had earned the title of “Value Leader” in the ”Grocery Benchmark Study” from Market Force Information®, which surveys more than 10,000 U.S. shoppers about their grocery buying preferences. ALDI’s exclusive brands were also named the top choice for U.S. consumers for private label products.

Recent and regular Simply Nature items available at ALDI U.S. locations include:

  • Chips

    • Organic Tortilla Chips in Blue Corn and Multigrain varieties

    • Organic Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips

    • Black Bean Chips

    • Hint of Lime White Bean Chips

    • Sweet Potato Chips

  • Organic Popcorn

  • Grain Free Pretzels in Sea Salt and Roasted Garlic & Herb varieties

  • Organic White Cheddar Puffs

  • Crackers

    • Peppercorn Brown Rice Crackers

    • Brown Rice Crackers in Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato & Basil Brown varieties

    • Cauliflower Crackers in Sea Salt and Cheddar varieties

  • Cookies

    • Grain Free Cookie Bites in Chocolate Chip, Double Chocolate Chip, and Salted Caramel varieties

    • Coconut Cashew Crisps in Vanilla, Chocolate, and Sea Salt Caramel varieties

  • Organic Beef Jerky in Original, Peppered, and Teriyaki varieties

  • Nuts

    • Raw Cashews, Walnuts & Macadamia Nuts

    • Raw Almonds, Pecans & Pistachio Kernels

  • Organic Chewy Granola Bars in Chocolate Chip and Vanilla Chip varieties

  • Breads

    • Organic Graintastic Breads in 21 Whole Grain & Seed and Seedtastic Jam-Packed with Seeds varieties

    • Sprouted 7 Grain Bread in Regular and Low Sodium varieties

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Photos: Douglas J. Peckenpaugh

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“There are now more than 130 Simply Nature products available in ALDI stores every day, with additional products introduced on a seasonal basis,” says Kavanaugh. “From pantry staples such as cereal, fruit bars, and pasta sauce, and fresh items like bread, produce, and salad mixes, to newer items including cauliflower tortilla chips and coconut cashew crisps, there is truly something for everyone.”

This great assortment of exclusive brand products is a testament to the ongoing efforts of ALDI’s team of buyers and suppliers. “The incredible quality of this product line wouldn’t be possible without our amazing supplier partners,” says Kavanaugh. “We applaud them for their passion for innovation, and that pushes us to create new and exciting products, while still keeping our prices low.”

Photo: Douglas J. Peckenpaugh

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Consumers who gravitate toward natural and organic foods often tend to have a higher level of concern for sustainability and the environment. Therefore, companies can build a stronger connection with those important consumer demographics through new sustainability initiatives.

In March 2021, ALDI announced a new sustainability plan designed to help protect natural resources and ecosystems, as well as promote human rights of workers and sustainable sourcing within supply chains, via a series of initiatives rolling out through 2030. The plan includes commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce food waste, reduce operational waste, improve packaging, and source responsibly, including:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025 through a continued transition to solar and wind energy

  • Continued conversion to natural refrigerants in all store locations

  • Diverting 90 percent of operational waste by 2025

  • Reducing packaging materials by 15 percent and converting all ALDI exclusive-brand packaging to reusable, recyclable, or compostable materials by 2025

  • Striving to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030 through composting and food recovery initiatives

  • Expand sustainable sourcing of coffee, while continuing to source cocoa and seafood

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Courtesy of ALDI US

This work builds on an already-strong environmental track record. To date, ALDI has outfitted solar panels at over 100 stores and 12 distribution centers across the U.S. The retailer plans to add solar arrays to warehouses in Alabama and Kansas, as well as to roughly 60 additional stores by the end of 2022. ALDI currently purchases enough renewable energy each year to power its 2,100+ stores, 25 warehouses, and offices. ALDI sources this power through Green-e, a global leader in clean energy and carbon offset certification.

Also, all ALDI warehouses and nearly 400 stores in the U.S. currently use natural refrigerants that reduce the environmental impact up to 4,000 times more as compared to common refrigerants.

ALDI currently has recycling efforts in place for food, plastic film, corrugated cardboard, paper, metals, and other materials. In 2020, ALDI recycled nearly 300,000 tons of material.

For these efforts and others, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized ALDI as a “Green Power Leadership” award winner in 2020.

ALDI has also already fully entered the mission to help combat food waste and food insecurity. In 2020, ALDI donated more than 29 million pounds of product to local food banks through its partnership with Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks across the country that feeds 40 million people at risk for hunger, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors.

These efforts are emblematic of the forward-thinking corporate culture of ALDI, always staying slightly ahead of the curve. The Simply Nature exclusive brand arrived on the U.S. market at just the right time to help catalyze overall growth of the natural and organic food movement, and today the brand’s product assortment reflects a number of emerging trends related to plant-based nutrition.

Of course, ALDI isn’t content with its past successes and always looks toward the future, with buyers and supply partners continually seeking the next big snack, baked good, or other innovative product for its loyal shopper base, continuing the successes celebrated over the past seven years since Simply Nature debuted. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the next seven years of Simply Nature brings,” says Kavanaugh.

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