It wasn't that many years ago when speaking with a category manager at a supermarket operator in the Midwest that I inquired about how well the chain was doing with a popular new organic item on the market. Evidently, the question was funny because after the giggling stopped I was informed that the item might sell well on the coasts but, in the nation's heartland, there wasn't much of a market outside some cities and/or college towns for organics.
Today, there's little doubt that organics have gone mainstream. The latest case-in-point is Aldi, which has added organic produce in a number of its divisions following a rollout of its Simply Nature private label organic and natural line in September. It even sells the occasional branded organic item, as well. This week the nearest Aldi was advertising Nature's Path Love Crunch Organic Granola for a lower price than I could find anywhere else locally.
So how do organic products make sense for limited-assortment, pay to use its carts, Aldi? In a word — price.
While many consumers like the idea of organics and removing chemicals from the foods they eat, the cost for these items is typically higher than conventional alternatives. Few stores, if any, have lower prices than Aldi.
"It means a lot that organic is cheaper there," Becky Balder, an Aldi shopper who lives in Bloomington, MN, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Aldi's prices for organic items are typically 50 cents higher than the conventional alternative it offers, according to a report on al.com.
Further, shoppers at Aldi don't run any financial risk by trying out the chain's organics. Aldi's "Double Guarantee" on its own brands promises that customers who are not 100 percent satisfied with one of the chain's products can get a replacement item and have their money refunded.
How likely or unlikely is Aldi to succeed with the sale of organic foods?