Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Aldi's Milk vs. Everyone Else's Milk

Edit: I have added a more concise review with photos, find it here: Aldi's Milk Review - Revisited (With Photos)


Aldi vs. The World in the Milk Arena?
What exactly makes different brands of milk different? Have you ever asked yourself the same question? For this review, I purchased a gallon of 2% Aldi milk (sold under their friendly farms label) for $2.49 and compared it to a gallon of 2% store branded milk from another local supermarket that cost $3.99. At the same supermarket, they also carried gallons of 2% milk from nationally-recognized dairy brand Kemps for $4.09. I was already thinking I was saving a few pennies by purchasing the store brand milk, but after a trip to Aldi I was concerned I was getting scammed at my local supermarket. If I could justify the cost savings of Aldi's milk - over a dollar per gallon - and I consumed a gallon per week, I could save about $50 on my grocery bill without doing anything differently except stopping at a second store.

So What's The Catch With Aldi's Milk?
As soon as I saw the Aldi's milk I felt there had to be some kind of catch - how else could a company (even a highly efficient, German company like Aldi) sell their milk for so much less than everywhere else? I wondered if this was some kind of "B" grade milk, the milk that was about to expire, or milk that had tons of hormones in it. And who exactly was this “Friendly Farms,” anyway?

Is Aldi Milk “B” Grade Milk Or Something?
I learned that there is such a thing as B grade milk, and its inferior status comes from the level of bacteria present in a sample of it, but it's usually used in cheese and other dairy products, not sold for drinking. I felt confident that there would have been an uproar on the world wide web if Aldi was selling B grade milk in their stores as regular, grade A milk. I didn’t find any complaints about Aldi milk online, except on one forum where a lady was convinced that her gallon of Aldi milk held less product than the competition. I examined my gallon of Aldi milk and it sure looked like it held the exact same amount of milk as the store brand gallon of milk. The milk jugs were the same size, but the circles on the sides that expand to prevent the gallon from exploding under pressure or impact were shaped a little differently. I decided that the woman’s complaint probably wasn’t valid and there was no way Aldi was using “B” grade milk under their label. Point to Aldi.

Is Aldi Milk About To Expire?
My gallon of Aldi milk had an expiration date over a week from the date I purchased it. I felt that Aldi wouldn’t risk the bad press and government fallout that would arise from consistently selling milk nearer its expiration date than their competition, but at that point I wasn’t exactly convinced there wasn’t some scheme running behind the scenes with Aldi milk where they would ask the plant for their oldest milk to negotiate a lower price or something. No points given here.

How About the Hormones in Aldi Milk?
The Aldi brand label, Friendly Farms, says that their milk is produced from cows not treated with rBGH or rBST. Aldi milk also carries the REAL seal, which means that the milk is certified as Made in the USA, made from cow’s milk, doesn’t contain any casein, caseinate, vegetable oil, or other substitutes. Not that I would expect any of these products to be present in Aldi’s milk, but it’s reassuring to see the seal. The ingredients listing and nutrition facts on the Aldi milk label are also exactly the same as the ingredients and nutrition facts on my gallon of store branded milk, which was also a point in Aldi’s favor.

What Really Put My Mind At Ease…
After tasting the milk and not being able to tell the difference, I knew I had to try a little harder to discover why Aldi could sell their milk so cheap. Finally I noticed that the plant code stamped on both my store brand milk and the gallon of Aldi’s milk had the same format, two digits, a dash, and three digits. This convinced me that the two milk brands were either from the same company, which used the same format between all its plants, or else there was some standard plant notation, that might be documented on the web. After a little more research, I discovered the mind-blowing web site whereismymilkfrom.com, which lets users enter in the code from their dairy products and uses it to look up the dairy plant of origin in a public database published periodically by the government, the Interstate Milk Shippers List. It then returns the result in a Google Maps pane with icons detailing what products are made at that plant.

Looking up the Aldi label milk using its code, I saw it came from a plant operated by Kemps! The same thing with my store brand milk, it also came from a Kemps plant, although it wasn’t the same exact one. This discovery leads me to conclude that most milk is exactly the same regardless of the container it arrives in, and consumers who choose Aldi milk can save money without worrying about getting a subpar product. Why would anyone pay more for milk that is made at the same plant as the cheap stuff? In my opinion, Aldi milk is just a good way to cut the grocery budget down to size, and Aldi wins this one!

16 comments:

  1. Thank you! My research isn't done; however, this review was a "great news" start for me.

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  2. Thanks! This really helped ease my mind b/c milk at my aldi is only $1.89!! $4 at other stores. Thanks!

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    1. Glad I could help! The cheapest I've ever seen at my Aldi was 2.19!

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    2. What about antibiotics to the animals? Are they grass fed? I'm still researching that myself. We just recently got an Aldi store near us. Thanks for your review!

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  3. Well it seems they are doing something to cut corners as I have had to return milk to Aldi 3 times over the last 2 months. The milk goes bad way before the expiration date. I have never repeatedly had this problem at any other store. Maybe cheap shipping and poor refrigeration.

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    1. Florida, we have been using ALDI Milk for several years and never once had to return a gallon because it went bad. As a matter of fact, there have been times I have used a gallon after the expiration date as it still looked and smelled good. I don't know why you are getting so many bad gallons of milk, but it would make me think there is either something going on with your particular store or with your fridge. As far as name brand vs. generic, I can tell you for a fact that many generic foods are made at name brand plants. For some products they may leave, or use less, of a particular ingredient, to make the product a little different, but that is about it. When it comes to dairy, produce, and meat, they all have to meet the same set of standards by the FDA regardless of brand. ALDI keeps prices down because of how their stores are setup to reduce overhead costs. No cutting corners with product, just simple economics.

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  4. Here's a piece of trivia that you'll probably hear from multiple people who work in different areas of the food business:

    What's the difference between Name-Brand Product-X and Store-brand Product-X?

    Answer: The label

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  6. I've been buying Aldi milk for close to a year, and during that year on two different times the milk spoiled before the expiration date. One time I purchased skim milk and found the milk inside was 1% or 2% milk fat instead. I just don't trust Aldi milk anymore.

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  7. A great way to undercut the increasingly belabored dairy farmer. Wholesale milk buyers, such as Aldi are driving local dairies out of business. I love milk. A cold glass of milk is heaven.

    Milk is also loaded with fat. The only healthy choice is 0%. I can't stand wholesale 0%. It tastes like water. That was before I had Organic Valley 0%. More healthy than any of the milk substitutes, and better tasting than wholesale milk or milk subs. If you haven't had it, you don't know what you're missing.

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  8. Hmmmmm explain this....5 gallons of milk. 4 from Save a lot 1 from Aldis. 4 exp a week from now and are unopened but taste spoiled. The 5 expires in 3 days unopened but frozen...all the milk was in the same fridge same temp. This wasn't a science experiment but just curious how 2 different store brands taste spoiled yet use by date is a week away and were unopened....GAG nothing worse then spoiled milk!

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  9. For me it doesn't seem to matter where I buy the milk once in a while I get a bad one. Aldi's is just a better deal. A much better deal!

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  11. Well i have a question, i have a gallon of Aldi's whole milk it expired on March 31 2014 i don't drink a lot of milk and didn't think much of it so about 12 days in to April i needed milk i looked at milk date past date humm, no change in milk as far as it seperation like bad milk does, i smelled it and it was not bad yet. humm Anyway i got the milk out and set it on my porch rail with the lid just sitting on it so it would not expand until i could dump around a tree. Anyway did not get to it so long story short the milk is still on my porch rail with lid just sitting on it, mind you a month past the expiration date. NOW my ? question and concern is why does this milk still look like milk no clumps no separation no change it doesn't smell worse than other bad milks, so why is it not thick and separated and just down right nasty? This milk if you didn't now can be poured into a glass and beside smelling of it you would have no clue it was bad, well except i wouldn't recommend drinking it either. So whats in Aldi's milk?

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    1. Was it Skim Milk or one of the % milks? With my experience with skim milk, it doesn't have any fat in it to go bad or have the separation like milk with fat in it. I would drink skim milk a few days after expiration, just as long as it doesn't smell bad. This is with all kinds of brands too, usually Aldi's or store brand.

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