Aldi fans can often be heard praising the supermarket's low prices, but even the budget retailer has fallen afoul of shoppers as cost-of-living pressures bite. Customers have slammed the grocery giant after a popular product was hit with a huge price increase seemingly "overnight".
While Aldi Australia claims to set itself apart from rivals by cutting out unnecessary costs and passing the savings on to customers, Aussies have recently seen the retailer's prices soar. Case in point: the store's skinless Tasmanian salmon fillets have increased in price by $4, in a move that has outraged customers.
"So explain to me, Aldi Australia, how do you justify a 28.5 per cent overnight increase on fresh salmon? This is outrageous. Last week, it was $13.99 for four pieces, this week $17.99. Guess where it stayed? On your shelf, NOT in my trolley," one disgruntled shopper wrote on the Aldi Australia Facebook page.
The post ignited a firestorm of criticism from fellow Aldi customers, with many threatening to jump ship over sudden price hikes. "Everything is so expensive at Aldi now might as well shop at Coles and Woolies," one shopper pointed out, while others suggested ditching major supermarkets altogether. "Off to the markets we go. It's getting ridiculous!" vented one fed-up customer.
Customers have also noticed price increases across several of the store's everyday products. "Not impressed by Aldis price increases, a big frozen box of lasagne was $8.99 now $11.99, cheese was $8.99 now $11.99, whisky $34.99 now $36.99, cooking bacon $5.99 now $6.99. I can justify a small increase, but $3... time to look around," added another angry shopper.
Only last month, Aldi was named Australia's favourite supermarket for the sixth year running in Canstar's Supermarket Satisfaction awards for the sixth year in a row. The retailer dominated price-based categories like "value for money" and "deals/specials available", but the shine may finally be wearing off.
Aldi responds to price hike backlash
In response to the criticism, an Aldi spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia they "remain committed to providing shoppers with the best products at the best prices" and regularly reviews their meat and seafood pricing.
The salmon price jump has been attributed to current market conditions, which have driven higher input costs for producers. While customers bear the brunt of these costs, allowing suppliers to receive a sustainable return for their products, Aldi says it's committed to keeping prices as low as possible.
"Aldi's entire business model is oriented around saving customers money to ensure that we continue to lead as Australia's lowest-price supermarket. We always aim to cut unnecessary costs and pass these savings directly onto customers," the spokesperson explained.
"We know that the price of essential goods has never been more important to Australians, so we remain absolutely committed to delivering the best value for our customers while also supporting our supplier partners by maintaining fair pricing at all times."
Will Aussies really desert Aldi?
Consumer expert Gary Mortimer says it's unlikely Aussie shoppers will move away from Aldi altogether, but will "shop across multiple brands and multiple sectors" to secure themselves a better deal.
"Most shoppers today will shop across multiple brands of supermarkets in order to save. It's not uncommon to shop at Aldi for the basics like lunchbox snacks, and then pop into a greengrocer for fruit and veg, and even Woolworths or Coles to buy other products on special," he told Yahoo.
Mr Mortimer added that recent CHOICE research indicated that shoppers are also prepared to "cut out the middle man by shopping directly with suppliers".
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