Well, it’s finally happening in the United States. A major grocery chain is getting rid of candy at the checkout.
Aldi announced the move as part of an overall effort to help shoppers make healthier choices in 2016, following in the footsteps of chains like Tesco in the UK.
Specifically, Aldi is introducing “Healthier Checklanes” in select stores this year. The re-formated checkouts will replace chocolates and candies with, “healthier items” like single-serve nuts and trail mixes, dried fruits, and granola bars. And, the chain says it’s planning to implement the newly redesigned checkouts at all of its stores by the end of 2016.
As the company explains, “Check lanes are a notorious source of unhealthy impulse buys. To cut out that temptation and allow shoppers to end their grocery trips on a healthy note, Aldi is introducing Healthier Checklanes in select stores this year.”
Jason Hart, Aldi's ceo, says it’s part of the company’s larger goal of doing it’s part to “remove temptation at checkout and stocking stores with even more nutritious options.” Adding, “At Aldi, we truly care about our customers, and we’re responding with guilt-free checkout zones and increased food options they can feel good about.”
The company is also promising that all of its private-label brands will be free of certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) and added MSG. And, it’s highlighting nutritional facts on the front of its exclusive brand food packages, as well as partnering with registered dietitians through its Advisory Council to provide tips, recipes and meal-planning ideas, among other things.
Now here is where I confess to you that Aldi is one of my all-time favorite stores. I have vivid memories of shopping there with my dad when I was a little girl, and our house was pretty much always filled with Aldi brands when I was growing up. The Aldi cheese puffs are still one of my comfort foods.
The stores are known for a few things: Amazingly low prices, almost exclusively stocking private-label items, making customers pay for their own paper grocery bags, and requiring shoppers to put a quarter in a shopping cart that they only get back if they put the shopping cart away.
When I say low prices though, I mean, like, what would cost $100 at a store like Wal-Mart, would literally be $40 at Aldi. It’s kind of a magical place, actually. Especially when you have $21 to last until Friday, and you want to eat something every day.
So as a loyal Aldi shopper I don’t want to be too hard on the chain. And as someone who tries to eat healthy, I am sympathetic to their position.
Of course, as someone in the confectionery industry, I’m not excited about the decision. Industry executives tell me all the time how important check-out sales are to overall profits. And eliminating even the possibility of someone grabbing a Snickers on their way out the door has a ripple effect on the entire industry.
I think there is a middle ground here though. I think you can have trail mix, and Hershey’s bars and batteries all happily co-existing at the checkout. You can give people more options without taking the original choices away.
We have to remember that candy is actually completely fine in moderation. And giving people the option to treat themselves after doing a week’s worth of grocery shopping isn’t a bad thing in and of itself.
So I’m sad to see Aldi take a step like this.
The good news for candy companies, though, is that unless there’s something I don’t know, the stores will likely still feature a huge display of chocolates and candy in the very first aisle of the stores as you walk in. The feature is a staple at the stores, and almost as good as having candy at the checkouts. Almost.