While food prices have been on a long incline, many grocery chains are doing what they can to offset costs to the consumer. This includes the discount chain Aldi, as well as Costco. If you have both to choose from, you might be wondering where you’ll find the better deals.
Furthermore, you might have a lot of questions about which grocery chain is better suited for your family or household. So then, is Aldi similar to Costco? Keep reading to find the answer!
Is Aldi Similar to Costco In 2023?
While both Aldi and Costco compete in the low-priced grocery market, the two retail chains are very different in 2023. Starting with both chain’s origins: the Aldi US parent is based out of Germany, while Costco’s headquarters is in Seattle, WA. The two also operate using completely different business models.
To learn more about who owns each company, the many ways the two retailers are different (and what that means to you) and the big one: which is easier on your wallet, keep reading!
How Is Aldi Different From Costco?
Aldi differs from Costco in many ways. Let’s look at some of the big ones.
1. Business Model
Aldi runs on a “no-frills” business model, which cuts operational costs and then passes the savings to the customer.
Some of the ways it does this include smaller stores, limited hours, limited employees, shopping cart “rentals,” bag fees, store brands, and no in-store services (like check-cashing).
It works well for Aldi, because customers love the low, low prices on all the grocery basics (plus some surprisingly high-quality extras).
However, Costco operates very differently this is because its stores are members-only.
Customers must purchase a $60 Gold Star or a $120 Gold Star Executive membership, good for one year.
Second, Costco stores are for bulk purchases. Rather than buying 12 ounces of mayonnaise, Costco is for buying 120 ounces of mayonnaise.
Therefore, selling larger quantities means buying larger quantities, which gives Costco the ability to negotiate for a better deal on the company’s end.
Additionally, Costco getting a better price means the customer can benefit from savings, too.
Aldi has significantly more locations in the U.S., with a presence in 39 states and over 2,000 stores.
Costco, on the other hand, maintains about 800 stores around the world (nearly 600 in the U.S.) and is present in 46 states.
Additionally, the stores themselves are vastly different, too.
Aldi stores are built compact, normally no more than 16,400 square feet.
Whereas Costcos mimic big-box chains like Walmart, with stores that average around 146,000 square feet.
Both Costco and Aldi sell groceries, it’s true, but what each store stocks – and how much – is very different.
Aldi is known for its pared-down inventory, around 1,400 different items, over 70 percent of which are labeled with an Aldi brand.
Costco, in comparison, stocks around 4,000 – which is actually surprisingly low (Walmart carries 142,000 on average), but still much more than Aldi.
Costco also carries a wider selection of name brands. Only around 360 items are Kirkland Signature brand, of the total 4,000 different items Costco carries.
That’s about 11 percent, with the other 89 percent accounted for by big-name brands.
Let’s look at a few similarities the two chains share, for the sake of comparison. There are some, though not many.
- High-quality store brands (in Aldi’s case, too many to name; in Costco’s, its Kirkland Signature label)
- Legions of devoted customers who hype the merchandise
- Emphasis on lower prices than you can find in regular grocery stores
Is Aldi Owned By Costco?
Aldi is not owned by Costco; the two are totally separate corporate entities.
Aldi was founded in Germany right after WWII, when the war-torn country was economically devastated and people needed affordable groceries.
Costco, on the other hand, was born in Southern California in the 1970s, starting as the Price Club chain, before merging with an earlier iteration of Costco.
After the merger, which created PriceCostco, the name was eventually shortened to just Costco and the HQ was moved to its current location, outside Seattle, WA.
Therefore, the two are completely different entities with no affiliation whatsoever.
Is Aldi Or Costco Cheaper?
With both retailers emphasizing lower-than-in-store prices, it’s worth examining who really does have the best prices.
Additionally, this Pilgrim Life found that Costco under-priced Aldi on many items, and in other cases, the two were identical.
The writer found Costco’s prices were better where pantry items and nonperishables were concerned, but Aldi was lower on produce.
Moreover, don’t Waste The Crumbs did a comparison and found mostly the same, though in both cases, “less” was usually equal to a few cents.
One item where the difference was a dollar was ground beef; yes, Costco even beat Aldi here, at $2.99 per pound, versus Aldi’s $3.99 per pound.
However, there are two caveats to this before declaring Costco the winner in the price category.
First, you do have to have a membership to shop at Costco, so you’ll have to have $60 to spare each year (and that’s the minimum; Executive memberships cost $120 per year).
Second, you have to consider your household size and its needs.
Therefore, if you’re one person or a couple, shopping in bulk at Costco regularly enough to justify the membership might not make much sense.
Additionally, shopping at Aldi would be preferable because you can buy smaller amounts that are less likely to go bad before you get to use it all.
Moreover, if you have a family of four or more, plus the space to store larger quantities of food and merchandise, then yes, shopping at Costco could save you money.
Are Costco Products Better Than Aldi?
While Costco certainly carries more brand names than Aldi does, its Kirkland Signature store brand is still wildly popular among customers.
How does it compare to Aldi’s store brands? Let’s take a look.
Wide Open Eats reported that the Kirkland Signature brand took sixth place in Consumer Reports’ list of best store brands.
Additionally, Eat This, Not That placed Kirkland Signature at 11th (in their list of 20) – just behind Aldi’s Simply Nature (organic) line, as it happens.
What that means for the consumer, then, is that you can shop at either and pick up store-brand products with the confidence that it’s going to be high-quality.
Does Aldi Sell Kirkland Products?
Aldi does not sell Kirkland Products; however, the Kirkland Signature brand is not exclusive to Costco.
Aldi has a massive list of house brands, including these:
- Happy Farms (actually manufactured and packaged by a variety of regional dairy farms)
- Benton’s (famous for their Girl Scout cookie dupes; These cookies are actually made by the same company that makes the cookies for Girl Scouts)
- Casa Mamita (Mexican foods)
- Clancy’s (snack food line, including chips and pretzels)
- Lacura (make-up and skincare line)
- Park Street Deli (dips, side dish salads)
- Ambiano (small kitchen appliances)
- Earth Grown (vegetarian and vegan food)
- Simply Nature (organics)
- Live G Free (gluten-free)
Additionally, Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand is available outside of Costco stores, but not at Aldi.
Therefore, you can find Kirkland’s Signature goods on Amazon, as well as in discount retailers like Marshalls and TJ Maxx (both of which belong to the same parent company).
Does Aldi Or Costco Have More Items?
Costco beats out Aldi for more items, but not by as many as you would think.
Considering how much bigger Costco warehouses tend to be (like hundreds of thousands of square feet bigger), it might surprise you that Costco carries only about 4,000 products.
That’s still double Aldi’s 1,400, but only a little more than half of what rival Sam’s Club carries (more like 7,000).
To learn more, you can also read our posts on what is Aldi, Aldi SWOT analysis, and Aldi business model.
Aldi and Costco are two very different stores that offer two very different experiences. Despite that, they are competitive in price, with Costco often beating out Aldi. Still, the store that best fits your household depends on the size of said household and how much storage space you have.
Additionally, Aldi would be the better option for singles or smaller families, whereas Costco is terrific if you have a large household and would like to buy in bulk.