Discount Retail Chain Aldi Süd (German family owned) is launching a new private label brand for organic food in its German stores. Under the name "Only Nature" (in German Nur Nur Natur), there will initially be 15 items on the shelves. For the most part, they are certified according to the guidelines of the organic association Naturland, which has stricter organic standards than required by law.
"With Nur Nur Natur, we are setting standards in food retailing," explains Erik Döbele, the responsible purchasing manager at Aldi Süd. There has never been such a brand in the discount. However, Lidl has also certified part of its own organic range according to the equally strict criteria of the competing Bioland association.
It is striking that Aldi Süd is introducing the new brand alone and not together with its sister company Aldi Nord. Actually, the two companies had jointly announced their cooperation with Naturland at the beginning of the year.
In order to reduce purchasing costs, Aldi Süd and Aldi Nord have standardised their own brands. However, this policy of bringing the companies, which have been separate since 1961, closer together has recently come to a standstill. Last but not least, a further standardization of the computer systems of South and North, which has been stopped according to information from business circles, makes cooperation more difficult.
There are good reasons why Aldi Süd is now launching the new brand for higher-quality organic products as quickly as possible. Although consumers continue to attach great importance to sustainable products, they are very price-sensitive due to the high inflation of food. According to market researchers, this offers discounters in particular good sales opportunities in this field.
Discounters' organic brands benefit from inflation
In a survey conducted by the market research company GfK, 65 percent of those questioned stated that they were willing to spend more money when buying sustainable products for everyday use. But consumers know that they can switch to cheaper sustainable products, especially when it comes to food, and they do so, explains Petra Süptitz, sustainability expert at GfK.
The own brands of the supermarket chains also benefited from this, but even more so those of Aldi, Lidl and Co. Customers “continue to buy organic products, but are more price-conscious, compare offers and more often choose alternatives such as the organic retail brands of the discounters,” says the expert Süptitz.
In the past year, the sales of many organic retailers collapsed. Renowned companies such as Superbiomarkt or Basic had to save themselves from insolvency. According to figures from the market researcher GfK, organic supermarkets lost 9.4 percent in sales last year, organic food shops and health food stores even 33.9 percent.
At the same time, organic retail brands increased by 11.8 percent. The discounters in particular benefited from this.
"The increasing narratives of a bio crisis paint a wrong picture," said Jan Plagge, President of the Bioland association, in the run-up to the "Biofach" trade fair in February. "The demand for organic products has been going in one direction for decades, namely upwards." However, due to the general increase in the cost of living, demand has shifted to the discounters.
Almost 100 Lidl products certified according to Bioland guidelines
It is therefore no wonder that the large organic farming associations are increasingly opening up to discounters. Of the approximately 300 organic products that Lidl offers, almost a third is certified according to the Bioland guidelines. Kaufland, the Lidl sister company from the Schwarz Group, now has more than 250 Demeter products in its range.
Penny, the discount subsidiary of Rewe, also announced a cooperation with the Naturland association in February. Gradually, products based on the association's criteria are to be integrated into the Penny organic brand Naturgut, which already includes more than 300 organic items.
Among the 15 products with the Naturland seal that Aldi Süd is now launching is non-homogenized milk, which the company says is a novelty in German discount stores. Aldi Süd also sells fruit yoghurt, cheese, wholemeal bread and sausages under the new organic brand.
The company wants to expand the offer quickly. By mid-2024, 50 products from the new brand should be on the shelves of around 2,000 Aldi Süd branches. Even after that, the number of items under the “Nur Nur Natur” brand should continue to grow.
However, all of the discounters' own organic brands have a basic problem: only part of the range is certified according to the strict criteria of Naturland, Bioland and Demeter, the rest according to the much more lax legal organic guidelines. So, despite the improvement in supply, consumers must continue to look very carefully at what they are buying.