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September 17, 2018

Aldi Waters Down Its Margarine… Literally

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:56 am

Aldi is an international chain of limited assortment supermarkets known for very low prices on most items. They carry very few national brands. Rather, store brands dominate their shelves.

In recent months, MrConsumer noticed price increases on various items there like cookies, peanut butter, pretzels, and more. One particular item, their 45-ounce tub of margarine, has had two price increases in recent months. It had been $1.79 for years, but jumped to $1.99 several months ago, and shortly thereafter went up again to $2.29.

Aldi margarine old

Last week, there was another change to this product. The margarine now comes in a rectangular tub:

Aldi margarine new

A closer examination of the package, however, revealed an additional change that was very unwelcome.


Aldi 51%


Aldi 40%

They cut the amount of oil in the product by over 20 percent. So what replaced the oil? Water! In fact, the primary ingredient in this margarine is now water, whereas previously it was oil.


Aldi margarine ingredients

We asked Aldi’s PR agency to explain why they literally watered down this product rather than raise the price, why they didn’t label the product as a new formulation, and whether they conducted any consumer taste tests to demonstrate that consumers preferred the new version. They declined to answer the questions.

Sadly, name brand tub “spreads” like Country Crock and Blue Bonnet are also only 39-40% oil these days. I don’t know about you, but MrConsumer just loves to spread emulsified water on his crisp English muffins.

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  1. I can see a price increase, maybe even two in a short period if it has been a long time since the price went up. Two price increases and a formulation change is ridiculous. My wife says I’m crazy when I’m always suspicious when something goes on really good sale because sometimes it’s to hide a price change or formulation change.

    Comment by Joel — September 17, 2018 @ 9:11 am
  2. This seems ridiculous. This product is more like vegetable oil ‘juice’ than it is vegetable oil spread.

    I have never purchased vegetable oil spread that is less than 60% oil. The quality of a spread is terrible below 60%.

    Comment by Wayne — September 17, 2018 @ 12:39 pm
  3. Though I am big Aldi’s fan and believe that their products are generally of high quality at often remarkable prices, I have noticed that the company generally follows the cues of the national brands it is cloning. This is far from the first time that Aldi reduced the size or changed the formulation of its house-brand product to match that of the name brand equivalent.

    In fact, some years ago in the margarine department it lowered the oil content of its “Tastes Like Butter” spread shortly after the national brand, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!”, did so (going from 60% oil down to 45%). More recently, the “sweet cream buttermilk” that was an highly advertised ingredient in the national brand disappeared from the label while Aldi substituted buttermilk powder (and apparently moved production to Canada).

    As MrConsumer so often reminds us: read the label!

    Comment by JonK — September 17, 2018 @ 2:39 pm
  4. There should be a law that says if a formulation is changed, it should be noted on the package.

    Comment by HMC — September 17, 2018 @ 2:44 pm
  5. JonK,
    A lot of products (name brands & store brands) are made in the same manufacturing plant, they also have (sometimes) the same formulation, they just stick another label on the package.

    Comment by gert — September 17, 2018 @ 3:06 pm
  6. Maybe they are using Evian water which would justify the price increase for a water downed product.

    Comment by Scott — September 19, 2018 @ 7:22 am
  7. I think water would have still been the first ingredient in the old list if they hadn’t combined all the oils into a single “vegetable oil blend”.

    Comment by MarcK1024 — September 21, 2018 @ 4:18 pm
  8. As a frequent Aldi’s shopper, I’ve noticed that their cottage cheese and plain yogurt seems to have more of a watery consistency. Their are more products that I refuse to buy there anymore due to lower quality.

    Comment by JoniS — September 21, 2018 @ 7:18 pm

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