Aldi Has Made Some Pretty Bad Decisions

At times, Aldi can feel like the Disneyland of grocery stores. Well, except for the fact that its food is cheaper, its lines are shorter, and its roller coasters are non-existent. Nevertheless, this supermarket can seem like a magical kingdom if you love getting a good deal on your groceries. After all, if you're buying an award-winning wine that costs $10, just about anything could happen there.

But as the old adage goes, no multi-billion dollar corporation is perfect. And Aldi has made plenty of noteworthy mistakes throughout its long history. This chain has sold some second-rate chow, plus it's discontinued a few scrumptious products. The company has also made a number of decisions that are just downright horrific. 

If you want to learn about Aldi's worst decisions and moments, then you've definitely come to the right place. You may even want to hold onto these facts on your next discount supermarket haul.

Aldi has sold some pretty crummy products

While Aldi's knock-off Girl Scout Cookies are 100 percent divine, there are a handful of its items that aren't worth your money. For instance, Wise Bread asserts that you should never buy Aldi's packaged cookie dough: "If you're planning to skip the from-scratch experience and lay out prepackaged cookie dough on a sheet to bake, just don't. Even following package directions, my refrigerated dough burned easily and still didn't cook the whole way through." Perhaps this chain should just stick to selling the finished product.

Aldi's chips are another item that has a bad reputation. According to Living Well Spending Less, "Aldi chips just aren't as tasty as brand name chips. I've also found it always seems like there's only half a bag of chips once you get Aldi chips open." With that in mind, choose your snacks carefully the next time that you get them from Aldi. You don't want to end up with a shopping bag full of duds.

Aldi made a cringey gamer ad

In 2019, Aldi released a commercial in the UK with the slogan "Teatime Takedown." This ad shows a mom waiting for her kid to stop playing a video game and come down to dinner. It follows up this shot by asking the question, "Is gaming getting in the way of dinnertime?" The clip then presents a simple solution to this problem. You see, this chain apparently hired a team of professional gamers to play children who won't leave their devices to eat with the family. This elite group would try to take these youngsters down.

The clip then suggests that the professional gamers can beat a child at their game, throw them into a tantrum, and the child will then arrive to the table in a good mood. The ad ends by encouraging parents to sign up for this service.

Plenty of viewers weren't enthused about this campaign. Geoffrey Tim for Critical Hit said, "Parents should be setting boundaries, and also take an interest in their children's hobbies. Maybe play something together, instead of getting them to rage-quit after a spot of cyber bullying. It's especially cringey, because it seems the campaign's entire reason for existing is to punt teatime recipes."

Aldi ended up backtracking hard after it released this ad into the wild. Dexerto reported, "Following the largely negative feedback, Aldi UK have removed the Teatime Takedown page and sign-up from Facebook, and sent apology emails to various complaints about the ad."

Aldi once sold a pork product as halal

"Muslims around the world practice the religion of Islam," the Halal Research Council stated. "The practice of Islam includes observing dietary laws which come from Islamic teachings. Islamic dietary laws define foods that are Halal, meaning lawful or permitted. Muslims avoid food and beverages that are Haram, meaning not permitted." Meals that contain pork, pork products, or pork by-products aren't considered halal.

With this information in mind, let's look at the time Aldi sold a black pudding that contained pork by-products as halal. According to a 2015 article from the Independent, "The product, made by Scottish company Punjab Pakora, was marked with a UK Health Code stamp which labeled it as suitable for Muslims, despite containing traces of pork blood and skins."

A number of Muslims weren't happy that this product was falsely labeled. "This is absolutely outrageous and I am deeply offended by this," customer Manahil Khan told Mirror. Khan also said, "It is demoralising and goes against one's religious morals and scripture ... and I speak on behalf of every Muslim and human that does not deserve to be misled by any sort of false claim of halal food or lies about what we consume."

Aldi apologized for selling this product. A spokesperson said, "We have rectified the issue immediately, we sincerely apologise to the public who have been affected by this mistake."

Aldi tried to run a classist Instagram campaign

Fashion influencers and supermarket companies can never be out of touch. Right? Hmm, not if Natalie Lee and Aldi have anything to say about this subject. Lee is an influencer who runs a blog called Style Me Sunday. This site discusses "all things fashion, with feelings thrown into the mix." In 2020, she teamed up with Aldi to attempt the #AldiPoorestDayChallenge. 

According to Buzzfeed News, the #AldiPoorestDayChallenge was an initiative meant to demonstrate the healthy and affordable foods this chain can provide. Lee wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post, "Aldi has challenged me to feed my family of 4 for a whole week – breakfast, lunch, and dinner for £25 to see if it's possible."

A portion of individuals who saw Aldi's hashtag weren't thrilled with the idea. An Instagram user said, "Many people who live in poverty don't even have this much to live off." Another person called this challenge poverty porn. Most of the reactions on Twitter agreed that this stunt wasn't thought out and disrespected some of society's most vulnerable people.

While Lee apologized for making her initial post, Aldi stood by the idea. A spokesperson for the chain informed BuzzFeed News, "Our campaign was intended to offer practical advice about how people can make their money go further."

Aldi sold its customers rancid turkeys

Succulent turkeys are a staple of Christmas and Thanksgiving. On the other hand, rotten turkeys are a staple of garbage bins and corporate apologies. In 2018, Stroud News and Journal reported that Aldi sold heaps of rancid turkeys on one of the most festive days of the year. The article claims that "Dozens of Aldi customers contacted the paper to complain of foul-smelling fowl, and one family even had to resort to chicken nuggets for their Christmas lunch."

Wesley Ellis was an Aldi customer who had purchased one of these bad turkeys. Ellis told Stroud News and Journal, "I am very annoyed and I will be going into Aldi when they are next open to get my refund." At least Aldi apologized for selling these birds. The company said, "We are sorry that, in a small number of instances, we did not meet our usual high-quality standards."

Aldi recalled virus-infected hard drives

When you buy a new electronic device, you're expecting that it'll work perfectly. You're also hoping that it's not riddled with malware that could compromise your computer. But you may not get so lucky when you buy from Aldi.

ZDNet, in a 2011 news piece, declared that Aldi had sold its Australian customers hard drives that contained malware. This virus involved components of the Conficker worm, and this infection is no joke. NPR explained that the Conficker worm can be used to steal passwords and the codes you use online: "Officials in Ukraine recently arrested a group of people who were leasing a portion of the Conficker worm's computers to drain millions of dollars from bank accounts in the United States."

It does appear as if Aldi never apologized for selling this product. But ZDNet reported that the chain did provide some advice. The article reads, "Aldi confirmed that a full reformat of the device's hard drive would remove the worm." Gizmodo additionally communicated that the company would give its patrons full refunds if they returned these items to the stores they bought them from.

Aldi sold strawberries that were too cheap

One of the greatest pleasures in life is eating fresh (and preferably cheap) strawberries. However, if you were to discover that your snack's price could negatively impact the farmers who grew it, then that should absolutely dampen your day. 

In Spain, Aldi once tried to sell strawberries at a price that would possibly hurt its farmers. E-Comercio Agrario reported on this controversy back in 2017. An article stated that the Union of Small Farmers and Ranchers (UPA) planned on reporting the supermarket chain for illegally selling strawberries below their cost of production. The UPA said, "We have caught them ... Even now, when the cold wave is pushing up the price of fruit and vegetables, Aldi squeezes the farmers." 

But how exactly does selling strawberries below their cost of production hurt the industry? Well, Fresh Plaza recorded that the Andalusian Strawberry Interprofessional Organization (Interfresa) believed that this move "discredits the image of the products and of the whole sector." Aldi ended up apologizing to the association in a Twitter post and said it would withdraw the sale of these strawberries.

Aldi didn't stop its patrons from panic-buying toilet paper

Toilet paper is one of those essential items that lives up to its designation. But in March of 2020, it was difficult for Australians to purchase the paper from their local supermarkets. This is because people were panic-buying the coveted item due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Aldi responded to this panic-buying by limiting its customers to four packages of toilet paper each. But despite putting this restriction in place, a number of customers believed that the corporation wasn't doing enough to stop other patrons from snagging up more than they should buy.

A vocal group of people complaining about Aldi's toilet paper situation was uncovered by Yahoo! News. These individuals decided to voice their concerns under a Facebook post advertising a power drill you could buy at the stores. A user expressed, "I'd rather a few rolls of toilet paper." Another account asked if Aldi could limit its supply to one pack per person. They then went onto say, "This is getting ridiculous for those of us not stock piling but genuinely need toilet paper."

Aldi has sold food items that have contained unpalatable filth

Some customers have found pretty disgusting items inside of Aldi's food. In a 2015 exposé by The Age, the publication outlined quite a few putrid object-meal combos that should never have existed. A customer named Michelle said that they found maggots inside a Mozart chocolate wrapper. "They were my favourite chocolates, but I can't even look at them now." 

A different patron named Tania Ewing stated that her daughter had spotted a fingernail inside of Aldi's salted caramel ice cream. "It took us three months to get any response from Aldi," noted Ewing. The Age outlined three more food-related fiascos. One person unearthed a piece metal in their peanut butter jar, a couple discovered bugs in their tomato paste, and another patron came across what appeared to be the leg of a starfish when they opened up their smoked mussels. None of these instances make Aldi look particularly stellar. 

Aldi responded to these occurrences by stating, "For the incidents mentioned, there has not been an illustration of any trends and customers that have been in contact with Aldi have been responded to."

Aldi's caviar wasn't beluga enough

One of the best parts about Aldi is that it offers typically expensive foods at a discounted price. Have you ever seen its collection of cheap yet delicious cheeses? Looking at them makes you feel like you're shopping at a delicatessen. Nevertheless, if an item's marketing goes wrong, then this benefit of shopping at Aldi can feel like it's being ripped away like a rug.

In 2014, Aldi got called out for inaccurately labeling its caviar as "beluga" caviar. The Telegraph reported that beluga caviar consists of roe, the eggs of female fish, that only come from Huso huso sturgeons. But Aldi's caviar "comes from a combination of river sturgeon and Amur sturgeon indigenous to the Amur river in China, neither of which have any relation to Huso huso."

Kenneth Benning, a man who runs a caviar farm called Exmoor Caviar, complained to Aldi about this move. He told the Independent, "The adding of the word 'Beluga' in Aldi's product implies something that is actually not its origin or value. ... Aldi should rectify this."

Fortunately, Aldi changed its decision before this product hit the shelves. A spokesperson communicated to the Telegraph, "The product will be called Specially Selected Caviar and the packaging will clearly state that our caviar comes from a cross-breed of Amur sturgeon and Kaluga sturgeon."

Aldi sold racist t-shirts in Australia

Back in 2014, SBS reported that Aldi had sold a t-shirt that featured a problematic phrase. This item of clothing had the words "Australia: Est. 1788" printed onto its front. However, this date is incorrect. As Share Our Pride stated, "Aboriginal peoples are the oldest surviving culture in the world. ... They have occupied Australia for at least 60,000 years." Saying that this place came into being when the British invaded erases this important history. 

A number of people voiced their opinions regarding this product. In the aforementioned SBS article, Australian politician Linda Burney told the publication that Aldi's design was insensitive. She said, "It's kind of astounding that you have to have these discussions about something so inaccurate, so offensive and frankly quite racist." And on Twitter, user Matt Mason told Aldi to stop selling the t-shirts. 

Aldi did end up pulling the item. A spokesperson emailed SBS: "The decision to remove the Australia Est. 1788 design from the range was taken following comments by a limited number of concerned customers." 

But even Aldi's response received some backlash. Luke Pearson, the founder of the Twitter account @IndigenousX, believed that the company's explanation was half-hearted. This is because it asserted that the number of concerned customers was limited. Pearson said, "If they are so 'limited' then why would you bother because everything out there for sale has someone that doesn't like it."

Aldi has discontinued some classics

It can be slightly depressing to discover a snack that you once munched on is no longer on the shelves. Does anyone else remember Pokémon Cereal? But melancholy memories aside, Kellogg's isn't the only company that has axed a pile of its products. Aldi has also quietly discontinued many of its items. And not everyone has felt peachy about these foods disappearing from their supermarket shelves. 

In a Twitter post, Aldi UK asked the internet, "Which discontinued Aldi products do you want to make a comeback?" The tweet got plenty of responses. One person requested that the company bring back the wasabi peanuts while another asked for the rhubarb crumble. A different individual pined for the chicken wings.

Another item customers really miss is Aldi's version of a Thin Mint. Rachael S. Johnston says on Aldi Reviewer, "Sometimes products disappear for reasons that aren't clear. That is the case with the Benton's Fudge Mint Cookies, which were a dead ringer for Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies."

So, if there's an Aldi product that lives inside of your heart, maybe you should buy a couple of extra servings the next time you head to the store. Who knows? It may live on in the shops forever. But on the other hand, its removal from shelves could also become this supermarket's next bad decision.