The Connection Between Trader Joe's And Aldi

For many foodies there is nothing better than finding a tasty product for a bargain price, which has led to affordable grocery chains like Aldi and Trader Joe's developing passionate fan bases throughout the U.S. — even before the pandemic and the war in Ukraine led to food prices across the country hitting record highs. Both companies have unofficial social media channels dedicated to them and popular house brands for products like wine and frozen foods. But did you know these two companies are somewhat related?

It's true. As Eat This, Not That explains, California-based Trader Joe's and its 557 U.S. stores (per ScrapeHero) are a subsidiary of German chain Aldi Nord, the sibling company of Aldi Süd, which Americans know simply as Aldi, the home of such fan-favorite house brands as Mama Cozzi's pizzas, Clancy's snacks, and Winking Owl wine. Aldi Nord purchased like-minded, low-cost grocery chain Trader Joe's in 1979 as a way of entering the American market where Aldi Süd had already established itself a few years earlier when it opened its first store in Iowa (per CNBC).

A tale of two Aldis

For those who are stunned to learn Trader Joe's isn't just an Aldi subsidiary but that there are two Aldis, let's take a step back. CNBC explains Aldi was originally founded as a suburban German corner store which brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht inherited after World War II. In the economic turmoil of post-war Germany, the brothers worked to cut down waste by only selling staples at low prices and were quickly able to expand their store into a chain. By 1955 they had 100 stores, but in the 1960s, the brothers split the business into two (Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd) after disagreeing about selling cigarettes.

While the two brands coexist regionally in Germany — divided between the north (Nord) and south (Süd) — they split the rest of continental Europe into territories. According to Brilliant Maps, Aldi Nord operates in France, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Luxembourg, and Portugal, while Aldi Süd services the United Kingdom, Hungary, Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, Slovenia, and Italy, as well as Australia. Aldi Süd expanded into the U.S. in 1976, just three years before Aldi Nord bought Trader Joe's, making the U.S. the only country besides Germany where both brands operate.

Although Aldi Nord does operate Trader Joe's in the U.S., Query Sprout reports that the brands are run separately and are a completely different company than the Aldi we know in the States, even if some of their products and target markets overlap.