Steakhouse sizzle at an ALDI price
With the long Memorial Day weekend behind us, the grilling season is officially under way. Many American consumers have excavated their grills from the garage, pressure washed their patios and spent the weekend shopping for hot dogs, burgers and, mmmmmm, steaks.
What could be more American than a New York Strip Steak charred to perfection on the grill? Apparently, nothing. American consumption of red meat is forecast to hit 236 pounds per person in 2019, up from 222 pounds in 2018 and 210.2 pounds in 1998, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s the highest amount of meat consumption within the last 50 years.
Memorial Day Weekend usually supercharges meat sales at grocery stores, as shoppers buy food from every corner of the store, but especially fresh departments, for their summer grilling menus. The numbers for 2019 aren’t in yet, but shoppers spent an average of $87 at grocery stores during Memorial Day Weekend 2018. The biggest spending day of the 2018 weekend was Saturday, when spending was 21% higher than average. These days, Memorial Day shoppers are looking for value more than ever, which means shopping carts are full of private label products, especially from fresh departments.
Despite the fact that private label brands make up a small portion of overall food sales in the U.S., the demand for them continues to rise. According to a recent survey conducted by the Private Label Manufacturers Association and Nielsen, private label dollar volume in the mass retail channel surged 41 percent over the last five years compared to a gain of only 7.4% for national brands. In the fresh meat department, store brands picked up 1.6 percentage points of dollar market share, and fresh produce added 1.1 points.
Part of the credit for all of that private label success goes to the entry of discounters such as Batavia, Ill.-based ALDI, which has warmed American consumers to the idea that private label products can offer tremendous quality and value.
Which is why this past Memorial Day Weekend, many barbecue fiends headed to ALDI for their meats. Yes, in addition to an award-winning assortment of private label wine, snacks and cheeses, ALDI also has great steaks.
When Aldi announced in 2018 that it would invest $1.9 billion to remodel 1,300 stores, the initiative also included a refresh of its fresh assortment. Along with nicer lighting and signage, ALDI has enhanced its produce, dairy and meat departments with more organics and more premium products. So when I needed a great steak to grill this Memorial Day Weekend, I headed not to Whole Foods Market, not to some other fancy store with premium meats, but to ALDI.
The ALDI USDA Choice New York Strip Steak I tested is a spectacular addition to ALDI’s steak assortment (which includes ribeye, porterhouse, filet, among many others). At $8.99 a pound, the Strip was a wonderful value. The steak had a tight texture with a definite grain. It wasn’t super tender and had a bit of chew, but the strong beefy flavor was on point. The marbling was good and there was no gristle or many parts that needed to be discarded. It was easy to trim, easy to grill and easy to eat! I can’t recall any New York Strip Steak I’ve had in a steakhouse that was much better than this ALDI steak.
Overall score: 98/100
Tested: May 2019
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