German discount supermarket chain Aldi has been quietly lurking in the U.S. for quite some time now, even if it only earnestly set out on its American conquest campaign back in 2013. Now boasting over 2,000 stores across the nation, this bargain hunter's paradise is looking to the future — and to how it can continue its truly impressive growth by bringing about some vital changes in 2024 and beyond.
Varying from business acquisitions to store openings to implementing sustainability measures to expanding further into the plant-based market, Aldi has big plans for 2024. Customers are already seeing the results of some of these, with plastic bags being successfully eliminated from all U.S. stores in a major environmental change for the chain and new locations opening up in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and Visalia, California. By the end of 2024, shoppers could be looking at a bigger and better — yet still affordable — Aldi.
Read more: The Most Delicious Aldi Finds Of All Time
Several New Aldi Locations Are Opening In 2024
The "Grand Openings" section of the Aldi website shows that it has 12 stores set to open their doors just within the first few months of the year. The spread also seems to be pretty even, with new locations scattered across the country: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, and Ohio are all due to receive new Aldi stores. This is a fairly big deal for some of these locations, particularly for places like Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana, all of which have fewer than 15 stores across their entire state.
In a few of these cases, the grand opening also marks the first time certain cities will have an Aldi at their disposal. Folks hailing from Conway, Arkansas, for example, would have previously had to travel about two hours by car just to reach their nearest Aldi, which is a bit of a stretch just to get the weekly grocery run out of the way.
Aldi Is Acquiring 400 Stores Through Southeastern Grocers Deal
In addition to the 12 stores Aldi plans to open in 2024, the chain's acquisition of Southeastern Grocers is also set to be completed this year. When discussing the deal in an interview, CEO Jason Hart told Supermarket News that, while acquired Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie stores would continue to operate under their own brands for a time, the long-term plan is to "convert a significant amount to the Aldi format ... over the course of several years."
This means that, even if the remodels and conversions don't happen immediately, Aldi will be gaining a significant boost in revenue from 400 new locations. It's also likely that since Aldi has a market gap in the Southeast, as Hart admitted in his interview, this will present itself as an opportunity for two things. First, market research: By analyzing the customer habits of southeastern Harveys and Winn-Dixie locations, Aldi can figure out how best to bring its stores to that market. Second, actually bringing Aldi to the southeastern market, either by converting existing locations or by opening new ones.
Plastic Bags Have Been Removed From Aldi Stores Nationwide
Aldi is considered one of the greenest grocery stores in America, an accolade it would clearly like to keep based on its recent sustainability policy changes. Aldi announced that it was committing to the removal of plastic bags from all of its stores back in 2022, so this isn't exactly new information; even so, it's still great news to see that the chain has followed through on its promise.
It also looks like Aldi is clamping down on plastic usage within its own supply chain, with Hart writing in a letter to Aldi customers that 62% of its own-brand packaging was classed as reusable, recyclable, or compostable. In addition, Aldi managed to hit a sustainability target early that was originally set for 2030: successfully cutting food waste by 57%. As a result, The Grocer reports that Aldi has increased its 2030 target to 90%.
More Plant-Based Options Are Coming To Aldi In 2024
In a piece of good news for vegans and vegetarians, Aldi announced in a nutrition report that it would be increasing the number of plant-based products it sells to 1,000 by the end of 2024 (via Vegconomist). The chain is implementing this change in two ways: firstly, by reducing animal products in items where they only show up in small quantities, and secondly, by introducing more new items to its vegan range. Aldi wasn't doing too badly on this front prior to its announcement, with over 700 plant-based products already available on its shelves, but it's always nice to see more options become available — particularly ones that don't break the bank.
This move by Aldi isn't just socially and environmentally conscious, it's also business savvy. Since 2020, plant-based products have seen a steady rise in popularity in the U.S. market, which will likely continue into 2030 and beyond.
Aldi Is Beginning Its Switch To Natural Refrigerants
The coming year may hold some interesting developments in store for Aldi — particularly where its massive growth within the U.S. supermarket sphere is concerned — but it's clear the chain has no intentions of stopping there. Sustainability certainly appears to be top of the agenda, with Aldi committing to switching entirely to natural refrigerants by 2035, the first supermarket chain to make this type of claim. In a press release focused on sustainability pledges, as well as its receipt of the GreenChill Store Certification Excellence recognition from the EPA, Aldi claimed that the move will save 60% of carbon emissions per year once it's complete.
This change is already taking place in 2024, coinciding with the opportunity presented by the opening and remodeling of new stores. In fact, Aldi states that it will begin by purchasing environmentally friendly refrigerating agents for its new and remodeled stores before replacing the agents in established locations. Speaking about the initiative, Hart stated that the new units would "not only help us protect the environment, but they also help reduce costs which we then pass on to our customers."
Read the original article on Mashed.