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Where Does Aldi Beef Come From? (China??)

If you are an Aldi shopper, you know what a great value it is to shop there. Aldi has great products at much lower prices. But I wasn’t sure it was OK to buy stuff like meat from Aldi, After all, where does Aldi beef come from? 

Most Aldi beef comes from local or regional farms located somewhat close to the store’s location. Thus, lower transportation costs help keep Aldi prices low. Additionally, most of their steaks are USDA Choice and Black Angus. 

But there’s much more to know about Aldi beef than that.

Most people can’t believe how cheap Aldi beef is. That naturally makes them concerned about quality. So today, we’re diving deep into Aldi’s meat pricing, quality, and sourcing. Does any of it come from China? 

Ultimately, we’ll answer why Aldi meat is so cheap and what the different USDA grades mean. 

Just keep reading to find out!

What kind of meat does Aldi sell?

Aldi sells all kinds of meats, like other grocery stores. You’ll find fresh chicken, beef, pork, and fish. They also have ground beef, steak, corned beef brisket, chicken breast, chicken thighs, sausage, and cold cuts. Most of their steaks are USDA Choice and Black Angus. 

However, there won’t be the same selection that you’ll find at other grocery stores.

You’ll find some meats in the freezer section. Fish and shrimp, hamburger patties, and breakfast sausage can be found in the frozen section.

The one thing you won’t find is a butcher. So no custom cuts at Aldi.

In fact, you’ll find many of the same meats you’ll find elsewhere. You just won’t have the variety that you’ll find at a bigger store.

No frills, smaller selections, no butcher, and buying locally/regionally are all ways that Aldi keeps their prices low.

But if you shop on Wednesday, you’ll find the fresh meat specials. These are usually the best meats. There will be limited stock, which means you need to hurry!

Does Aldi meat come from China?

No. Aldi meat does not come from China. Most of the beef sold in the US, by Aldi or otherwise, is produced and packaged in the US. 90% of the imported beef comes from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or Mexico. The same goes for pork.

Aldi gets a number of its items from China, so it’s not a stretch to wonder if they get their meat from China, too.

Many of the “Aldi Finds” items, like hiking boots, exercise equipment, kitchen mats, and toys, come from China. They also run a couple of grocery stores in China.

But consumers especially like to know where their food comes from.

United States labeling requirements require that products made outside of the US are clearly labeled with their country of origin. This includes food. (source)

In fact, Chinese pork is currently banned from being imported into the US because of concerns over the African Swine Flu. (source)

In fact, US exports of meat to foreign consumers is on the rise. Smithfield Foods exports pork to China to meet the pork shortage in China. Tyson Foods ships chicken products to China.

You may rest assured knowing that the meat you purchase from Aldi is most likely produced and packaged in the United States.

If it is imported, the label will say so, and it will not be imported from China.

How is Aldi’s meat quality?

Aldi’s meat quality is mixed. While it sells grass-fed organic meat, most ground beef is not labeled with a USDA grade, meaning it’s lower quality. It also has a tendency to be overground, making it a little mealy. Their steaks, however, are mostly Black Angus USDA Choice, and of good quality.

Aldi’s ground beef is not great for burgers, but it will work for meatloaf. Especially if you season it well.

The biggest problem with Aldi meat is that the selection can be inconsistent. So if you find something you love, you may not see it again for a while. I do, however, like that Aldi has a clear Animal Welfare Policy.

Sometimes you’ll even find organic, grass-fed beef at Aldi.

Organically grown beef simply means that the food the cows eat isn’t treated with pesticides and that no artificial hormones or antibiotics are given to the cows.

Then grass-fed simply means the cow was fed grass rather than grains. And while organically-grown and grass-fed” are often lumped together, one doesn’t automatically mean the other.

But Aldi actually sells grass-fed, organic beef. This means that it’s probably going to be more expensive than the other meat you’ll find at Aldi. It also means it is going to be some of the best quality of meat you’ll find at Aldi.

One thing you’ll likely never see at Aldi are USDA Prime steaks.

Only about 5% of all beef graded by the USDA qualifies for the Prime distinction. Prime is generally reserved for high-end restaurants.

But even if you did find USDA Prime beef, it may not be worth the price.

Read this recent article to learn why. I actually conducted a taste test of USDA Prime, Choice, Grass-Fed Choice, and Black Angus. You can even see my taste test video in the article. Just like me, you’ll be surprised which one came out on top!

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Why is Aldi meat so cheap?

One of the main reasons that Aldi meat is so cheap is that they don’t sell name-brand products. Also, they source meat locally and are able to save on transport-related expenses. Lastly, they do not have in-house butchers, so lower labor costs mean lower prices.

So Aldi just sells brands you’ve never heard of before.

It doesn’t mean the quality is any less. It just means that they can sell you a quality product at a lower price. But, you will see some of the same meat products sold at Aldi at Walmart too. (source and source).

Low staffing also has a role in the low prices you’ll see at Aldi. No, this isn’t directly meat-related, but it explains the low prices you’ll find, generally.

Because Aldi only has between 6-8 employees working at one time, and no in-house butchers, they spend less on wages, which means they can pass some savings on to customers.

You may not have a manager at your disposal, but you will fill your buggy for less money.

Aldi is committed to sourcing locally. By sourcing locally, Aldi is saving money on transportation costs. Again, they pass those savings along to the consumer.

They have limited supply. They advertise their fresh meat specials two weeks in advance, and when they are out, they are out.

By having a limited supply, they are spending less on overstock and reducing waste. This means that they are not throwing away as much food as other grocery stores.

By actually selling what they purchase, instead of throwing it away, they are able to keep their prices low.

Does Aldi sell USDA beef?

Yes. Aldi sells USDA beef. Most of their steaks are USDA Choice and Black Angus. USDA choice is the mid-level grade for the USDA’s grading. Aldi’s ground meats, however, are not usually USDA labeled. This typically means lower quality beef but at lower prices.

Ultimately, you will get the same quality beef at Aldi that you’ll get at any other mainstream grocery store.

What you won’t get is a huge selection or the ability to talk to a butcher or get a butcher to trim a steak or do a custom cut for you.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grades meat at the request of the meatpacker.

The grading system determines the quality rating based on the amount of marbling in the muscle and the age of the beef. Marbling is basically fat, and a fattier cut of meat means more fat rendering (melting) out of the steak as it cooks.

Traditionally a fattier cut of meat is richer and more flavorful.

There are three USDA grades of beef that you would buy from the supermarket. From highest to lowest, they are:

  • Prime
  • Choice
  • Select

The highest quality of meat is USDA Prime.

It is the most tender and flavorful cut of meat. It is also hard to find and usually reserved for high-end restaurants. You may be able to find it at other supermarkets but at a premium price.

It has a high ratio of marbling and is the most tender.

The meat you get from Aldi is likely USDA Choice. It is the second-highest grade, and has less marbling and is generally less tender. Less marbling also means less flavor and juice.

If you’re shopping for steak, you’re probably not going to get the best steak from Aldi. 

If you want the best steak and want to know how to shop for the best steak, check out this recent article. I took an in-depth look at all the top grocers and the quality of meat sold there. Ultimately, I found which stores sold the best beef.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we talked about Aldi beef and where Aldi’s meat comes from.

We also talked about how Aldi’s meat is so cheap due to local sourcing and hiring limited staff. Also, they are able to save on transportation costs. 

We also talked about Aldi meat quality and that they sell USDA beef, mostly of Choice grade. We also learned about other USDA meat grades and compared grass-fed beef to grain-fed beef.

But on the parting note, I have a question for you – will you like to buy beef from Aldi?

Photo which requires attribution:

Aldi by Mike Mozart is licensed under CC2.0

Jeff Campbell