Are Aldi and Trader Joe’s the Same Company?

Aldi vs. Trader Joe’sA lot of people have some vague idea that Aldi and Trader Joe’s are related. “They’re both Aldi,” they say. Is that right? Is it indeed true that both companies are Aldi?

The answer is: yes … but not in the way most people think.

To explain, let’s step back and review some history.

The company we know now as “Aldi” was founded in Germany in the early 20th century. Karl and Theo Albrecht — the founder’s sons — took over the company after World War II, but in 1960 decided to split up the company after they couldn’t agree on whether or not to sell cigarettes in their stores.

Even as two separate companies, though, they continued to work together, stocking the same products and organizing their stores the same way. They even agreed on a common name: Aldi, short for Albrecht Diskont. Theo’s company became Aldi Nord; Karl’s became Aldi Süd.

Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd also agreed to divide up which countries they expanded into. Aldi Nord, for example, runs the Aldi stores in France, while Aldi Süd oversees the Aldi stores in the United Kingdom. When the Internet era hit, they also joined together to create a common international website.

That brings us to America.

In 1976, Aldi Süd established the first Aldi stores in the United States. But America was (and is) a big country, so Aldi Nord also began looking for a foothold in the U.S. In the late 1970s, Aldi Nord’s Theo Albrecht took notice of a small but growing chain of stores in California founded by a man named Joe Coulombe, and in 1979 Theo bought Columbe’s store — Trader Joe’s — outright.

So Aldi Nord owns Trader Joe’s and Aldi Süd owns Aldi US.

On paper, that would make the two stores cousins. However, in practice, Trader Joe’s and Aldi US operate fairly different from each other, with different pricing and different atmospheres. Some shoppers claim that the two stores stock identical products under different labels and that may be true, but we’ve also found that some of Trader Joe’s products are very different than Aldi’s, too, so that part may be a matter of debate.

Also notable: Trader Joe’s is not listed as part of the Aldi family on the Aldi international website, unlike most other Aldi Nord stores, and unlike Aldi Süd’s Aldi US. (In fact, at the time of this post, Trader Joe’s doesn’t have a single official social media page, unlike Aldi and practically all of its country-specific divisions.) That means that the only hub for Trader Joe’s information is the Trader Joe’s website and its associated mailing list.

Just to be sure, we contacted Trader Joe’s and asked about its relationship to Aldi Nord. A Trader Joe’s representative told us, “Trader Joe’s and Aldi Nord operate independently.”

For those reasons, we think it might be fair to say that Trader Joe’s is more of a free-spirited adopted cousin: while technically owned by part of the Aldi family line, it does its own thing, with a distinctive DNA all its own.

About Joshua

Joshua writes about a variety of topics, including video games, parenting, and, of course, Aldi. He's also a science fiction novelist. You can learn more about him at www.joshuaajohnston.com.

7 Comments

  1. Ruth Gardner Lamere

    Can you tell me where there are Aldi’s stores in Eastern Massachusetts ?

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  3. I really enjoyed the history of Aldi; thanks for the story. I like my close by Aldi store but sure wish I had a Trader Joe’s nearby also. I have to travel an hour and 10 minutes to get to Trader Joe’s but it’s a nice drive to a college town where my grandson attends so therefore, a nice outing. I find items there that I can’t get anywhere else, like Murphy’s Stout (from Ireland) and French Onion Soup and different cookies and now some frozen bags with veggies and couscous or barley concoction. A really pleasant store to shop in.

  4. I love Aldi and since I’ve gone to minimally processed foods diet I am surprised that I can still buy about 90% of my groceries & sundries here. Aldi has come a long way since my first visit to a Sikeston MO store in the mid 90s. I was traveling through from Lenexa, Kansas to Tennessee and stopped & got dog biscuits after looking around. My dog wouldn’t touch those biscuits and the Aldi experience the. Was pretty dismal. The new stores are wonderful in comparison.

    However, I do notice that for the meats you do have to pay attention to additives. Some pork and chicken are brined in my small neighborhood store. But there is a “super” Aldi in a nearby village that has unbrined / organic meats as well as an in-store bakery. However, I’ve not tried their meats other than the Italian turkey sausage and grain fed ground beef as I go to my local butcher. The in store bakery is very good and I like that their pastries are not supersized. The rye bread, which is something not stocked in the small Aldi stores is very good as well.

    My first Trader Joe’s experience was the early 90s when I was working near Martinez, CA. I loved it especially since they carried ghiradelli’s broken chocolate pieces and bags of pistachios a very good prices. I liked them and I like it now. The customer service is phenomenal. For Trader Joe’s it is good but comparable basic food products at Aldi are much cheaper. I think of Trader Joe’s as my “budget gourmet item store.” I especially like their cookies, chocolate ice cream, frozen roasted corn (makes a mean corn chowder when sweet corn isn’t available) & Triple Ginger brew soda (my husband I hoard this stuff since it’s offered only once a year.) I love the olive oil, Dijon mustard, meat based broths, nuts, herbal teas, and popcorn (Aldi doesn’t always have their Clancy’s popcorn that you pop yourself). Oh I’d always purchased wine at Trader Joe’s because I cook with it quite a bit but now that Aldi has a small selection of basic wines there’s no need.
    One thing I haven’t found in Aldi is red or white wine vinegar but that’s no biggie since that’s likely considered more of a specialty item. Besides there’s a local market that stocks these at an affordable price & BigLots sometimes has these at a decent price as well.

  5. All I have to say is…I LOVE BOTH ALDI’S AND TRADER JOES…

  6. I just love them both Aldi and Traders Joe. But I would love to know. That being German why I can’t find Kanish. Oh how good they are. Please bring them.

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