Aldi is beefing up its luxury range even further this winter - well to be precise it's not beef: it's pheasant. It is launching the game bird for the bargain price of £3.99. The birds have all been shot on sporting estates around the West Country - and all pheasant shoots in the area have been on high alert for the need to keep the supply of birds coming.
Spokeswoman Annette Cole said in a statement: "This is a wonderful opportunity to bring the great taste of pheasant to Aldi customers, some of whom may be trying it for the first time." Those who warm to the game bird may want to take advantage and fill the freezer, because the pheasant season is drawing to a close, which is going to halt supply for a while.
A few years ago, this sort of luxury on the shelves at Aldi would have come as a shock. However, we have become used to a growing range of posh items in the store, which this winter have included beluga caviar for £9.99, fresh scallops, a whole goose, fresh lobster and whole legs of Serrano ham.
These bursts of sales of unusual items is part of the Aldi model, which has people flocking for a limited number of keenly-priced high-value items, ranging from ski poles and tablet computers to lobsters and pheasants. The idea is to tempt in middle class shoppers - who will see Aldi in a different light when they have tried their bargains for the first time, and incorporate the store into their regular shopping habits.
It's not a typical approach for a supermarket, but it's one that seems to be paying dividends. The proportion of middle class shoppers has increased from 13% in 2012 to almost 20% today. Meanwhile, Kantar Worldpanel has calculated that Aldi's share of the UK grocery market grew by a third last year to 4.8%, and Lidl by around a fifth to 3.6%. At the same time Sainsbury's, Tesco and Morrisons all reported a drop in market share.
Aldi opened 42 stores last year. and has a massive expansion programme on the cards for the rest of 2015 - bringing much of London and the south east into the Aldi fold. It means that we could see the proportion of middle class shoppers - and the store's market share - become even more striking in the next 12 months.
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