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Aldi and Trader Joe’s: Are they related?

A popular misconception about Aldi U.S. BB #:116756 is that it’s a sibling company, or at least a cousin, to Trader Joe’s BB #:162286. It is not. While the two chains have some similarities, with both following a low-price, private-label-dependent strategy, they are independently owned and operated. The confusion arises from the fact that their ownership groups, currently separate, have a shared history.

The first Aldi grocery store, Albrecht Diskont, opened in Germany in the early 1900s. The owner’s two sons took over after World War II and ultimately expanded the business into one of the largest grocery chains in Europe, with hundreds of locations in Germany and beyond. In 1960, the two brothers argued and decided to split the company into two separate entities, Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd. Aldi Nord took the Aldi locations in northern Germany and much of Europe, while Aldi Süd took those in southern Germany and the remainder of the European region.

The two companies continue to exist as separate businesses, operating stores in their respective regions, both under the Aldi banner. They cooperate in some instances in the interest of consistency, such as working together to offer the same product mix, maintaining the same store layout, and operating a joint website to brings the Aldi brand under one digital roof.

In the United States, Aldi Süd founded the first American Aldi store in Iowa in 1976 and now owns all U.S. Aldi locations. A local management group is responsible for Aldi Süd’s 1,800 U.S. stores. In 1979, meanwhile, Aldi Nord purchased the U.S. operations of Trader Joe’s, which had been founded in California in 1958. Trader Joe’s operates as a separate division of the parent.

The bottom line: there is not, and never has been, joint ownership of Aldi and Trader Joe’s in the U.S. market.

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full version.