The Australian Potato Chip Mishap Linked To Aldi

Once upon a not-so-long-ago time, one Australian shopper purchased a six-pack of individually-sized potato chip bags sold under the Smith's brand name -– Smith's is a major Australian snack food producer. To this person's surprise, they found that one of the bags of potato chips didn't bear the Smith's logo, but instead sported a label saying Sprinters, which is Aldi's generic snack brand in the Land Down Under. The irate snack consumer promptly posted a photo on Reddit calling out this chip swap scam.

Some of the commenters, however, seemed pleased that the OP had likely confirmed that Aldi's cheaper chips are made in the same factory as the big-name ones. As one person cheered, "You've just discovered that buying the product at Aldi is cheaper for the same content." Another person, however, surmised that Smith's "might use higher quality potatoes in their [own branded] chips, maybe they use a better quality oil, maybe the flavors are different." Yet another commenter, who said their parents worked at Smith's potato chip processing facility, confirmed that both of these things may be true to some extent, saying "They just change salt content and cooking times for Aldi," although otherwise, the chips are the same.

Why big-name manufacturers may re-brand products

So newsworthy was this discovery that it got picked up by various national news media outlets. Australia's 7 News spoke with a Queensland University of Technology professor named Gary Mortimer to ask why Smith's would be making Aldi's chips. Mortimer pointed out that Aldi does not have the facilities to make its own products, so it naturally contracts out with pre-existing manufacturers for any given item. Yahoo! News also reached out to a marketing and consumer psychology professor, Jana Bowden of Macquarie University. She said that it's common practice for a single factory, whether it be for potato chips or any other product, to manufacture goods that are then packaged and sold under different brand names and for different prices. If you buy the name brands, she says you're essentially paying an upcharge for "perception and intangible benefits."

Commenters on the Reddit thread noted that though you almost never see name brands at Aldi, other Aldi products might be made by well-known brands. One person had an experience that's pretty much the opposite of the OP's, disclosing: "We were buying the Aldi knockoff Weet Bix and the bags inside actually had "Weet Bix" printed on it." Another noted that Aldi's toilet paper is made by Quilton, while its fruit juices come from Berri and its wines from De Bortoli. In the U.S., Aldi's Clancy-brand baked chips may be manufactured by the Minnesota-based Barrel O'Fun (a subsidiary of Old Dutch Foods), while Millville cereals could be produced by Post, and L'Oven Fresh Bread by Bimbo Bakeries.