The State of the Aldi Supply Chain Situation

Aldi stock

Credit: Aldi

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post gets into some topics that might be politically sensitive for some. Our readers are always free to comment, but we do ask commenters to be mindful of our Community Guidelines.

The summer of 2021 was, in many ways, a sort of big reopening. With COVID case rates down and vaccines available to adults and some kids, Americans were ready to get out after a year of being isolated at home. Tourism looked primed to explode, and the world seemed on the cusp of returning to normal.

A lot of that did happen. Tourism, for example, rocketed back to pre-pandemic levels. (I know: our family navigated massive crowds in the summer of 2021 in and around Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.) And life seemed to move much more quickly back to normal.

But with that big reopening came a big surge in demand. People were spending money again, and in all areas. Anything that involved getting out of the house was especially in demand, such as cars and vacations.

The problem? The supply wasn’t there. In the auto industry, for example, chip shortages and other parts problems led to bottlenecks in production. (It wasn’t just new cars, either: one of my friends waited months for a replacement part after his car was in a fender-bender.) In retail, meanwhile, supply chains that had slowed down during the pandemic were now taxed as manufacturers and shippers tried to restart production.

For the average Aldi shopper, by June of 2021 there was a good chance you realized something was up. Products scheduled to release in the weekly ad didn’t show up. Aldi started slapping product delay warnings on specific products, both Regular Buys and Aldi Finds. More ominously, the Sneak Peek Ad began to shrink, and it has stayed that way for several months now.

The problems continued well into the fall and winter of 2021 and into early 2022. Not only was the middle aisle noticeably less crowded than normal, but random things would show up late. I saw swimming accessories show up in the fall, and obvious holiday fare appear in the spring. In the Regular Buy aisle, random products would disappear for weeks at a time.

Aldi has asked customers for patience amidst the shipping delays, but after a year of supply chain snarls, shoppers no doubt are wondering where the light is at the end of the tunnel. It’s impossible to say for certain, but here are some of the signs we’re seeing.

The Sneak Peek Ad Remains Small, But the Full Ad Is Close to Its Old Self

For a long time, the Aldi Sneak Peek ad, which runs 1 to 1 1/2 weeks before Aldi Finds hit shelves, was a pretty reliable listing of the Aldi Find lineup for that week. Back in the summer of 2020, Aldi shrank the Sneak Peek ad from 3-4 pages down to 2, and when the full ad came out it wasn’t much larger.

The Sneak Peek ad is still 2 pages. But the full ad has steadily grown back to normal size. Both the digital ad and the full print ad are full of Aldi Finds, and they seem closer to being on-season than months ago. Our This Week at Aldi posts reflect that, with recent ones showcasing a lot more in the Aldi Find department than they did a few months earlier.

The Middle Aisle — and the Rest of the Store — is Noticeably More Packed

We’ve seen it anecdotally, and people we’ve interacted with online have said the same thing: Aldi is packed, especially with limited buys. The company’s products are showing up just in time for the summer. It’s actually creating enough of a headache that the grocer has been advertising price cuts on Aldi Finds just to move out all the inventory.

We wouldn’t have seen that back in the winter of 2021.

Some Delays Are Still Happening

If you navigate to the Aldi product delays page, you’ll still see some items that aren’t making it to all stores on time. It’s hard to say how many stores are impacted — is it less than before, or the same? — but Aldi continues to wrestle with supply chain headaches. This is true of both Aldi Finds and everyday Regular Buys.

Stealth Releases Are Still Happening

Among the big developments from the fall of 2021 were stealth Aldi Find releases. These were products that would show up unannounced in stores, with no ad presence. Those kinds of releases seem to be less common in the spring of 2022, but they still happen: the Belavi Gazebo With Netting seemingly dropped out of the sky in May, and there are others that also show up without any warning.

Problems May Resolve in Some Areas, But May Not Fully Recover in 2022

Things are starting to get better in some places. Unfortunately, between the existing problems from last year combined with problems overseas — continuing lockdowns in China, conflicts sparked by Russia — supply chain issues may continue to create headaches through the end of the year.

That’s not all bad news, though. Chains may not recover, but they should gradually improve. We’re seeing evidence of that on Aldi shelves.

With any luck, the summer of 2022 at Aldi may not be full-on normal, but it looks like it may be better than what we witnessed in stores in the summer of 2021.

About Joshua

Joshua is the Co-founder of Aldi Reviewer. He is also a writer and novelist. You can learn more about him at joshuaajohnston.com.

18 Comments

  1. Eric Greystone

    My two Aldi locations here in Southern California seem to be worse at keeping the shelves filled. We still have significant empty space on the shelves. Staples like aluminum foil and coffee and dishwashing liquid and hamburger buns just aren’t there at all when we go. Again and again and again. And we’re there in the morning, enough time for them to re-stock and not have sold out in an hour. To make matters worse, since the pandemic hit we as vegetarians have had it even worse. We used to regularly buy vegetarian hot dogs, big vegetarian sausages, small vegetarian sausage links, vegetarian sausage patties, two kinds of vegetarian meatballs, vegetarian ground beef, vegetarian chicken strips and chicken nuggets and chicken patties. NONE of that has been available recently, some of the items for more than a year. The only thing we can still usually find is some kind of vegetarian hamburger patty. Maybe one of the breaded vegetarian chicken options. And that’s it. It’s making it very hard to justify the 25 minute drive to Aldi trying to save money when gas prices have more than doubled and we often still have to visit a different grocery store to fill in the things Aldi can’t seem to get in stock. I wrote to the corporate HQ and have spoken to a local manager, but honestly they’re going to lose us as customers very soon if they can’t bring it around. Especially since a visit to any other local store nets us plenty of choices for the things we need.

  2. I personally appreciate aldi doing their best to keep the shelves stocked and prices as low as possible while inflation skyrockets. And the aldi employees who sometimes take the brunt of customers’ anger. This is hard for all of us.

  3. Inconsistent quality is my biggest issue. For instance the most recent was the little flavored yogurts. Very bad and blew my stomach up. I only buy milk, eggs, cheese, salad dressing, mayonnaise, packaged lettuce, and some other things periodically to see if it’s any good.

  4. Aldi has been really well stocked in Central Oklahoma, as are most all grocery stores. except baby formula! The FDA has loosened some import restrictions in response to the situation, so more formula is being flown in from Europe.. I want to see Deutsche Kuche formula in the Middle Aisle 😉

    In all seriousness we have been getting a lot of strudel and other DK items, so that’s a relief.

  5. I think Aldi is doing its best to manage with hurdles in shipping and manufacturing. I hate to see empty shelves, but Aldi is no different from other stores so I try to keep it in perspective when it comes to being at the mercy of shippers and manufacturers. Some items I bought all of the time are no longer available so I moved to different items or did without them.
    I want to publicly thank the Aldi’s personnel for keeping a cheerful face despite the public comments. It cannot be an easy job when people are frustrated. I too have noticed a decline in the quality of some foods, but Aldi did not manufacture them; they only bought them as had in the past. Consumer input can help them know which manufacturers have cut corners in their product; the taste and quality, not the size. Shrinkflation with higher prices for smaller sizes is everywhere, not just Aldi. A comment for another day, but I just wanted to thank the employees for their hard work despite the frustration of the consumers.

  6. I do not concern myself with the root cause of problems at my retailers. My concern is with my ability to get a good deal on the items I want. Aldis is one of four grocers who compete for my business. While some things continue to be a good deal at Aldis, some things (salmon) have gotten much more expensive, and some things have become much less available. I have also noticed that the ads and Aldis Finds feature a lot of nonfood items.

    It’s not just Aldis. I’ve dropped my Prime membership and cancelled my Prime credit card for the same reasons — lack of quality items I want at competitive prices. And I’ve never shopped for groceries at Walmart for the same reasons.

    It seems to me that the small grocers are much nimbler than the national chains and have been able to manage through these issues better. When MarketBasket ‘went on strike’, Walmart had bare shelves while Hannaford was hiring more people, adding more registers, and bringing in more product.

    I love competition, so I hope Aldis rights the ship, but price increases, recalls, and empty shelves are not what I’m shopping for.

    • Aldi isn’t alone in advertising and stocking more non-food items. Supermarkets are a low-margin, high-volume sector. The profit margin on non-foods is generally far greater than on foods. And the business of business is profit . . .

  7. I’ve noticed price increases on yogurt went up 30% and I’m fine with that. However, when my coffee creamer went from $1.99/qt, to $5.05 that’s a 150% increase and that’s NOT ok.

  8. That aisle of Aldi’s finds junk has turned into two aisles. Please sell food, not Chinese junk.

    • Love the fact that Aldi sales nonfood items like furniture, patio cushions etc.

    • I agree. My Aldi seems like it is being over run with exercise equipment, furniture, home goods. toys, etc. Lacks a lot of the food I would normally get. I understand the shortage, only it is getting to be like Walmart or lows. I am to the point to where I will no longer be shopping at Aldi.

  9. I shop at Aldis for food & walmart for food. In Ct. shelves are ok for now but way too much junk that is non food! Only beer is sold in Ct. but would like more food items, 2 aisle have junk,clothes etc. The produce is hit or miss ie. cabbage heads are tiny for the price & dont know the origin, the garlic I did not buy was clearly sourced from China , get some American garlic from Gilroy Ca. largest garlic producers. I do buy the carrot,brussel sprouts,mini cucumbers. The avocados are tiny & hard! I mostly buy the same things that are reliable, sauerkraut, hummus,sweet potatoes, coffee creamer , butter & some frozen treats at times.Christmas cookies from Gerrmany are excellent & the DK Harvest Potato soup

  10. Regular and promo Inventory has always been somewhat of a problem at the Torrington CT outlet; now, of course, for whatever reasons, it’s become a major problem at all the outlets. Prices at Aldi appear to have jumped higher than at the local Price Rite, Walmart, and non-discount chains. So shopping patterns must change accordingly; promos at Stop & Shop, for instance, may yield much better prices than Aldi’s promos.

    Starting several years ago, shelf cards for assorted Aldi products have indicated reductions from prices that had never been charged at the local outlet. That’s not strictly illegal, just deceptive. Even if those higher prices had in fact been charged in other parts of the country, the “price drop” shelf cards are none the less misleading.

    Along with (shall we say) irrelevant prices, are seesawing prices on non-promotional items. Not knowing how the suits in Batavia think–or even if they do–I can only surmise that they’re searching for price points. Whatever the case, it’s very off-putting.

    Aldi’s no-raincheck policy is illegal in Connecticut, per CGS 42-215. Given the current inventory problems that appear to be especially prevalent at the local Aldi, I haven’t pressed the issue with local management or the state consumer protection department. But even now, Stop & Shop and Big Y, for example, have no problem issuing and redeeming rainchecks as required.

    I’ve emailed Aldi corporate about the raincheck matter a few times, but never even had the courtesy of an acknowledgement. Local staff does its best. But corporate is either incompetent or just doesn’t give a damn . . .

  11. Here in Pennsylvania, my Aldi was doing great and normally had everything I was looking for, until the last 6 weeks – now I have trouble finding several of the things I normally buy.

    • I know how you feel. Since I am somewhat disabled I have someone do my shopping for me. I always check my shopping list to make sure everything is in stock when I placed my order. This past week I actually tried to shop two times because the first time the product was out of stock. The second time I placed an order this week everything was in stock until my shopper went to get it. They showed replacements for the out of stock item and when I choose them, The replacement items were out of stock as well. My coffee creamer went up 150%. I was paying $1.99 a quart and it’s now over five dollars a quart. That’s price gouging! I’ll probably end up shopping elsewhere now ☹️

  12. Join the club. Change your shopping strategy. You can probably do as well or almost as well elsewhere. I used to go to Aldi weekly for the great prices, but now, with less attractive prices, it’s every other week at most. It’s just not worth the eight-mile trip any more–even without the outrageous fuel price. That said, I really would like Aldi to become competitive again . . .

  13. I’ve been a big fan of Aldi for years, but am ready to give up on them soon if they don’t fix this. As others have noted, all stores are dealing with the supply chain problem. The issue with Aldi, in my opinion, is that they have not changed the way they do things to try to make it work in this new reality. For example, if they would put phones in the stores so people could call first to check stock, maybe shoppers would keep shopping there instead of giving up in frustration. The policy of not calling individual stores is really not working for them in this situation. They have added a web page listing the items that are delayed, but it’s not current or accurate, as I’ve found out the hard way by visiting the store repeatedly to buy an item that is not showing as delayed, yet has not reached the store. I could go on and on, but the bottom line I think is they need to change their procedures to help keep it worthwhile for shoppers to keep shopping there. Too bad, it was a great concept when it worked.

  14. In the past we’ve endured various inconveniences at Aldi (for Albrecht Diskont) and other so-called discount grocers because the prices were so enticingly low. But as the discounts have evaporated and full-service grocers have become more attractive–or less unattractive, at any rate–it behooves the discount operations to enhance their customer services.

    But, despite the CEO’s self-congratulatory hype, Aldi certainly hasn’t done much to adapt to the changing retail grocery environment; on the contrary, it wallows in its past success while doing nothing to maintain customer loyalty. That’s why it sees less and less of my custom as each week passes.

    I’d truly love to return to the good old days of enthusiastic patronage, but Aldi has first to make it worth my while . . .

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