17 April 2020

El amor en los tiempos del corona: Edeka vs. Aldi

There's three supermarkets nearby, of which we use two frequently. There's Edeka, which has the widest variety of items, including specialty items from many areas beyond Europe; there's also Aldi, which is known for its cheap items and not so wide selection; and finally there is Erdkorn, which is an organic supermarket, and one which we only go to when there's something we need that can only be procured from this place. In the time of Corona, what happens is we shop for food once a week, early in the morning, and we go to Aldi first and then to Edeka when there's still things that are missing.

See, Aldi has the most mundane choices. If you want cheese, they have it. Just don't be too picky. They have wine, but it's not the best tasting wine. They have jams, but they might only have one type. Aldi is more or less how I would imagine a Communist supermarket to look like, where there's only one sort available for every item. But they're definitely cheap. So we start in Aldi and get the items that we just don't have a preference for. I don't care for signature milk, regular milk is fine, so I get it in Aldi. And when these basics are taken care of, we go to Edeka.

Edeka on the other hand is where you can find exotic items like harissa, AlbariƱo wine from Galicia, and other fancy items. If I want Fourme d'Ambert, I would be able to get it in Edeka. Aldi only has nameless blue cheese. So after finishing up with Aldi, we would go to Edeka to get the rest.

The interesting thing is that in the time of Corona, these two supermarkets are stacked differently. Aldi still seems to have full and well-stacked shelves. In these past weeks, I have never seen Aldi with empty shelves. They even have toilet paper, every time I checked! Edeka on the other hand has more problems with its supplies. There were three weeks where the fish counter was fully closed. Toilet paper seems to still be a rarity. And there were times when the vegetable area wasn't fully stacked, with several missing items. Oh, and of course, pasta is also spotty. Not that these are problematic for us: we have a good amount of toilet paper at home, and while we have some pasta boxes, it seems we haven't had the need to touch them yet. Hopefully it stays this way.

In any case, it's interesting how these two supermarkets have different supply chains, which reflect in the products they sell, as well as its availability. Aldi is known to be a supermarket that sells almost exclusively only products that are available in Aldi, while Edeka has a wider variety (yes, Edeka also has its own store brand, but is nevertheless open to selling products from its various competitors). These differences most probably have an effect on the availability of their wares.

This pandemic definitely has made me think more about supply chains in general, and where the items I consume are coming from. While I do hope that this pandemic is over soon, I think it also made a lot of us rethink about the things we consume.

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