If you have an Aldi and a Whole Foods in your city, you are in a position to make some tough decisions. That’s because these two grocers are competing for some of the same market shares, like the upper-middle-class shopper and the organics-obsessed.
But are Aldi and Whole Foods the same? Are the two so similar that it doesn’t matter which one you shop at? If these questions are something you are wondering about, keep reading!
Aldi Vs Whole Foods: Which Is Better In 2023?
While Aldi and Whole Foods offer some similar product lines, the two retail chains ultimately go about business in very different ways as of 2023. While Aldi’s emphasis is on the lowest possible prices for many kitchen staples, Whole Foods emphasizes fresh, natural, and healthy food items, mimicking the feel of a farmer’s market.
These are not the only differences between the two chains, and if you’re wondering which is cheaper, which is better-regarded for product quality, who has more organics, and which store is right for you, you’ll want to keep reading below!
How Are Aldi And Whole Foods Different?
There is certainly some overlap in the kinds of customers Aldi and Whole Foods target, but beyond that, the two chains might as well exist on different planets.
Here are some of the ways Aldi and Whole Foods contrast:
- Aldi emphasizes low, low prices before all else; the company got its start, after all, providing grocery staples to post-World War II Germans.
Whole Foods may have lower prices in some instances, but that is not the chain’s concern, and it targets a wealthier clientele.
- While Aldi carries an admirable line of organics, considering its limited inventory, organics are part of Whole Foods’ bread and butter.
Additionally, Customers know they can come to Whole Foods and find a great range of products farmed and/or manufactured with the least amount of chemical interference.
- Aldi currently operates a little over 2,000 stores in 39 states, while Whole Foods has over 500 stores in 43 states and three countries.
- Aldi’s US headquarters is in Batavia, Ill., while its parent company, ALDI, is based in Essen, Germany.
Whole Foods headquarters is in Austin, TX, the city of its founding.
In 2017, Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, making it the anchor of its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service.
- While Aldi offers curbside pickup and delivery with third-party app Instacart, Prime members can order Whole Foods for delivery via the aforementioned Amazon Fresh.
However, Instacart is available in thousands of cities across the U.S., and Amazon Fresh is currently only in about 20.
- Aldi carries roughly 1,400 different products; Whole Foods carries about 20 times that much, or 30,000 different products.
- About 80 percent of Aldi’s products are store brands (e.g., Happy Farms, Park Street Deli, Mama Cozzi’s).
In contrast, only about 3,500 of Whole Foods’ 30,000 (or 8.5 percent) products are 365 by Whole Food Market brand (its house brand).
Is Aldi Cheaper Than Whole Foods?
Aldi is without a doubt less expensive than Whole Foods, both overall and, in almost all cases, by individual item.
That’s because Aldi, for all it has begun to market more toward an affluent clientele, stays true to its discount roots.
Furthermore, Aldi’s business model has been designed to allow the company to cut operational costs, and therefore pass its savings onto the customer.
Even its cart system, where you “rent” a cart for 25 cents and return it to the corral to get your investment back, helps keep prices low.
Other examples include more limited store hours than other grocery stores, smaller stores both in front of house and back, and fewer name brand items.
Whole Foods, on the other hand, has never claimed to be the store you visit if you want to save money.
Moreover, consider the numerous articles devoted to insane price tags that have been spotted at various Whole Foods locations (here and here).
What does this look like in practice on shelves?
Grocery Questions broke down a price comparison between Aldi and Whole Foods branded items, and in every single category, Aldi had the lower price.
Further, they stated, “Aldi is anywhere from 21 percent to 74 percent cheaper than Whole Foods.”
Is Aldi Food Better Than Whole Foods?
There are a few different ways of examining whether Aldi’s products are better than Whole Foods’ products (and vice versa).
Grocery Questions lists a chart that shows the number of product recalls Aldi has had, versus Whole Foods.
Furthermore, Whole Foods’ had two recalls, whereas Aldi had a whopping 31.
However, Whole Foods has come under fire for purporting to be all organic or all-natural, when in fact some of its products don’t meet certain USDA regulatory requirements.
Instead, Whole Foods has its own quality standards, but its continued use of words like “organic” or “all-natural” can be misleading to customers.
Still, Aldi’s produce especially has a reputation for going bad before you would expect it to, and it’s compounded by the fact that most of it is pre-bagged.
Whole Foods, on the other hand, has a reputation for good quality produce.
Finally, though, where pantry goods are concerned, Aldi has comparable, if not better, quality products.
Does Whole Foods Have More Organic Than Aldi?
Whole Foods does have more organic products than Aldi, though Aldi is growing its organic line, Simply Nature, with every passing year.
However, Whole Foods is the place where you will be more likely to find specialty organic items, whereas Aldi’s line concentrates on basics, like pasta, eggs, ground beef, and cheese.
Whole Foods also has a wider selection of vegetarian/vegan/non-dairy products, though Aldi carries many basics, like almond/oat/soymilks, vegan cheese, tofu, and even pizza.
Does Aldi Or Whole Foods Have A Better Selection?
Certainly Whole Foods has the bigger selection, not just overall, but as far as organics go too.
To Aldi’s 1,400 items, Whole Foods carries 30,000 products, from produce and meat, to frozen and refrigerated, to pantry, beauty, and even bulk items.
Should You Shop At Whole Foods Or Aldi?
Still not sure which store is best for you and your household? Let me help you decide.
Whole Foods is best for:
- Households that can easily afford higher grocery bills and premium prices
- Households where organics are important or there are alternative diets, so having many options is essential
- Shoppers who want more variety overall (though not as many name brands as you would see in a regular grocery store)
Aldi is best for:
- Households where a budget is in play and shoppers need to get the most “bang” for their buck
- Households that shop organic occasionally, but don’t consider it an absolute must
- Shoppers who don’t mind if the one type of item that Aldi stocks are the only choice
To know more, you can also read our posts on Aldi vs Costco, what is Aldi, and Aldi competitors.
Though Whole Foods and Aldi do overlap in some departments, the two stores cater to very different markets.
Perhaps the biggest divide between the two is Aldi’s absolute commitment to low prices, versus Whole Foods’ sometimes-exorbitant pricing for specialty items.