If you are as big as an Aldi fan as I am, you may be disappointed when you arrive in Austria to find the discount supermarket chain does not exist here.
After all, Aldi does exist in Austria. It just goes by the name Hofer instead.
Why are Austrian Aldi stores called Hofer? Well, it’s not as complicated, or honestly as interesting, as you might think.
Why is Aldi in Austria called Hofer?
The Aldi supermarket chain was started by two brothers — Karl and Theo Albrecht — after they inherited their mother’s small grocery shop in Essen, Germany in 1945.
They soon began opening other branches of the store until, by 1950, they owned more than a dozen stores.
By the time they owned 300 stores, Karl and Theo got into an argument about the need to sell cigarettes in their stores. Karl did not want to sell them, while Theo did.
It was at that point the brothers split up the family business into what is now known as Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd (Aldi North and Aldi South) here in Europe.
The first place outside Germany Aldi Süd expanded to was Austria. That happened in 1967, when Aldi Süd bought the Austrian grocery chain Hofer.
At that time, it was decided to keep the name as Hofer due to that store’s brand recognition in Austria being so high.
It has remained that way to this day. (Here is Hofer’s website — sadly, only available in German but, if you run it through Google Translate it’s useable).
Is Hofer different than Aldi?
The only way Hofer is different than an Aldi you may be used to is that, just like all Aldi stores, it sells regional products. That means, if you haven’t shopped at an Austrian Hofer before, the brands themselves will look ‘different’ to you.
This, of course, makes sense, as what would be the point of shipping products made for Aldi stores in the U.S. to Hofer stores in Austria?
If the company did that, the price per product would be much higher than if they sell local products.
That is why, when shopping at a Hofer in Austria, you will notice the packaging looks different on the products you can buy. Other than that, Hofer offers the same high quality foods and other products you have always bought at your home country’s Aldi, and at a very cheap price.
In other words, if you shop at Hofer in Austria, you will find many Austrian food products like cheese, milk, meat, chocolate, fruits, vegetables, frozen and canned foods, and wine.
You will also find some of the products you enjoy from Aldi in your own country, as Aldi does sell some of their own brands in many of their overseas stores.
For instance, when I shop at an Aldi in the U.S., while most of the products they sell are manufactured in America, I can still buy the same Austrian, Belgian or German chocolate, and even some of the same snacks I buy at Hofer here in Austria.
Much of the time as well, while the brand may be different due to it being manufactured in the United States, the products Aldi in the U.S. sells taste the same or very similar to what I buy at Hofer in Austria.
That means, if you shop at Aldi for meat, cheese, milk, eggs, potato chips, pretzels, nuts, chocolate, fresh fruit and vegetables, salads, canned fruit and vegetables, pasta and pasta sauces, frozen foods — and on and on — you will find the same plethora of products at an Aldi in your own country and at Hofer here in Austria.
The packaging may just be different.
You will even be able to buy unusual-to-you (and usually delicious) products as, just like in every country Aldi operates in, they also sell products that cater to local tastes.
So, if you are looking for an Aldi in Vienna or anywhere else in Austria and cannot find one, head to one of the many Hofer stores instead (there are almost 500 in Austria).
Oh, and if you go over the border into Slovenia, you will discover Aldi is called Hofer there as well.
Now watch the Hofer video below to see some of the Austrian organic products they purchase from local farmers here. No wonder I still think Hofer is the best supermarket in Vienna.