Our Thrive Market review shows that their prices are slightly lower than competitors most of the time and dramatically lower some of the time. Overall, we found that the savings substantially outstripped the $59.95 annual membership fee. See the comparisons in the article to maximize your savings.
Getting the Best Prices on Organic Items
Shopping to get high-quality organic food at a reasonable price isn't easy. One of my personal hacks is to do a lot of comparison shopping for any packaged goods our family eats. Getting fresh, local fruits, vegetables and meats is always the core of a healthy diet. But we use farmer's markets, CSAs and local grocers for that portion. Getting the very best deals involves some time and diligence, so I'll show you how we do that below.
For the packaged goods, I've been testing out a newer website called Thrive Market and comparing it to other online options we utilize. The standard ones we use most frequently are Vitacost and Amazon, so these are the ones we'll compare against Thrive Market.
|TEN OF THE BEST ORGANIC PRODUCTS YOU CAN BUY FROM THRIVE MARKET|
|Nature's Path Honey Oat Crunch Granola Bars||Check on Thrive|
|Primal Kitchen Mayo||Check on Thrive|
|Thrive Market Ghee||Check on Thrive|
|Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda||Check on Thrive|
|Lundberg Organic Brown Rice Syrup||Check on Thrive|
|Annie's Organic Bunny Grahams||Check on Thrive|
|Thrive Market Organic Maple Syrup (Grade A)||Check on Thrive|
|Big Tree Farms Organic Coconut Sugar||Check on Thrive|
|Clif Kid Organic Fruit Rope||Check on Thrive|
|Alive & Radiant Foods Kale Krunch||Check on Thrive|
Current Thrive Market Promo:
Get an Extra 25% Off Your First Order
Vitacost has an extensive selection of both food and other household items. We typically only order from them when there is a decent promo of 15%+ off running. Their site and ordering process can be clunky compared to others and you usually have to order quite a bit at once to get free shipping, so we often combine orders with friends or tag along on each other's larger orders. They do have some items that aren't easily found elsewhere and on certain items we use, they reliably have the lowest prices.
For Amazon, we have a Prime membership, which I highly recommend for many reasons but especially if you shop for groceries online. Without Prime, shipping fees can add up. Also, with Prime, the shipping times are truly blazing fast. They are currently running a special that allows you to try it free for 30 days and I think that's worth doing.
Thrive Market Review
The new entrant is Thrive Market. Thrive Market is focused on natural and organic groceries and household products, so it's more niche than the other two, but we use a lot of those products in our household. Thrive Market has taken $159 million (!) in venture capital funding, so they are very serious about becoming dominant in their niche.
Thrive Market's model is a bit different than the other two; it is more like Costco than Wegmans. Here are the pros and cons of using Thrive Market:
Thrive Market benefits:
- Generally low item prices, sometimes dramatically lower than competitors
- Decent selection of foods chosen for their healthiness
- Stocks some otherwise hard-to-find items
- Free shipping over $49
- Have their own branded items that can't be found elsewhere
- For every paid membership, donates a free membership to a family in need
- Attempting to reduce carbon footprint in their shipping practices
Thrive Market drawbacks:
- There's a membership fee
- Shipping isn't free under $49
- Shipping can be slow
- The selection is somewhat smaller than other vendors (but appears to be expanding very quickly)
As you can see above, there are definite pros and cons. The fact that shipping isn't free under $49 doesn't bother me because we don't order in small quantities so it never comes into play. In that way, it's similar to how we use Vitacost.
Thrive Market tries to save on shipping both for financial reasons and to be more green by packaging everything into as few boxes as possible. This means there's more variability in the shipping speed. I've gotten orders as quickly as 3 days and as slowly as 2 weeks. So you have to think further ahead when shopping at Thrive Market than Amazon, but the savings to the planet of the reduced packing materials and carbon footprint are no doubt real. It just depends on what you value, and as I said, we make use of all three of these options.
What's with the negative reviews?
One of the reasons it took me a while to try out Thrive Market was that I read online reviews and it appears to be a service you either love or hate.
There are quite a few very negative reviews out there so I spent some time sifting through them. They mostly seem to fall into two camps:
- "I didn't know there was a membership fee"
- "It's hard to cancel"
Thrive Market runs a lot of promotions, often touting free products. However, their free products come with a trial membership and once it expires they will bill you for the annual fee. This is how almost all subscription services work, going all the way back to the Columbia House Records deals from my youth. I don't actually expect to get anything for free so this isn't a turn off to me, but beware; if you accept their offers they will bill you after the trial period.
The other one is that the membership is hard to cancel. I have started it, canceled it and restarted it without any real issues. Like most subscription products, they try to talk you out of leaving when you express that intent. Again, I expect that so it doesn't offend me to jump through the hoops to leave when that time comes.
Let's Talk about the Membership Fee
The part of the Thrive Market service that will make most people balk is the membership fee as it's a little unusual to pay a fee like that for groceries (unless you use Costco or BJ's). And to be honest, it initially rubbed me the wrong way so it took me a while to give it a try. However, I now think it's one of those things that at the end of the day makes no serious difference.
The reason I say that is that using Amazon frequently means you'll need to buy Amazon Prime, which is another membership fee. Amazon's annual fee is 50% higher than Thrive Market. However, it's a higher value fee as the selection at Amazon is nearly limitless and it includes a streaming TV membership that can make Netflix blush. But it is a membership fee. Also, Amazon doesn't carry some items that we look for (hard to believe but true).
Vitacost and other online vendors also have free shipping over a certain order size and we make heavy use of their coupons, but the per item prices are often somewhat higher. So there's no up-front membership fee but it all comes out in the wash because, at the end of the day, shipping costs money and these are low-margin products.
Thrive Market Coupon Codes
The way Thrive Market promotes their service is through semi-constant sale promotions. There's pretty much always a sale going on at Thrive Market. It's often free samples of popular items; other times it is a percentage off of your total purchase. We'll keep the most recent promo codes and offers on this page to make it easy. Be aware that taking advantage of any such promotion will mean that you are signing up for their annual fee.
Current Thrive Market Promo:
Get an Extra 25% Off Your First Order
A Sample Trip to Thrive Market
Another thing I want to do, to demonstrate some of our own comparison shopping, is to show all the goods we bought from a given shopping trip and compare the prices with other websites where you can get the same products. We might not have gotten the best deal we could have, but these post-purchase comparisons are important to help us make the best choices down the road.
One difficulty with this is that there aren't a lot of places to source the goods we use. I'll explain why I buy each item below because there's always a reason.
We've recently updated and expanded this list for 2019. Click on any price below to view the item at the site indicated. For Thrive Market private label items, they can't be purchased elsewhere so we chose an equivalent item for comparison at the other two sites.
Important Note: Organic Daily Post is an affiliate of Amazon, Vitacost and Thrive Market but we actually use and can honestly recommend all three. The prices actually vary quite a bit because they are frequently updated on the respective sites. Because prices fluctuate frequently, the comparison should be considered a snapshot in time. Frequent price changes are why we don't list Thrive Market prices right on the page, but we've created a link that goes to that exact product and opens in a new page to make it easy.
We use these for treats in the kids' lunches. They don't contain any low-quality oils like soy or canola and they have flax seed for extra nutrition. They also don't contain any nuts. Our kids aren't allergic to nuts but they can only take things to school that are nut-free and this qualifies. They are sweeter than I'd like, but they don't taste sweet compared to other more conventional granola bars. The manufacturer appears to be selling these on Amazon for an inflated price; I'm not sure why that is. It's unusual, particularly at Amazon.
This product is difficult to find but it's one of only two mayos I could find anywhere that isn't completely stuffed with poor ingredients. This one is made with no junky oils like soy, corn or canola. It contains no sugar. It also uses avocado oil, which has many health benefits. On top of this, it's also delicious, like real mayo should be.
This is an interesting one. Ghee is clarified butter, which is easy to make at home. It isn't much harder than making ice, though it is a bit messier. But, folks buy bags of ice every day, and like ice, this is a purchase of convenience.
I may be in the minority in my thinking because it's one of the best-selling items on Thrive Market and it's easy to see why.
I had to do some math to create directly comparable prices here, so what you see below is different than what you'll see when you visit Amazon and Vitacost. The Simply Ghee product is the closest comparison to this grass-fed ghee from Thrive Market, but it comes in a 9 oz. jar as opposed to Thrive Market's 14 oz. jar. Because of this, you can more easily compare apples to apples with the Thrive Market price.
Whole Foods and other health food stores carry Bob's products so you don't have to order this one online.
The baking soda is a little harder to find than all the various grains Bob's makes, but it is around.
I use this particular baking soda because it's processed without the use of chemicals, unlike most other baking sodas.
If you're just sticking the box in your fridge to absorb odors or using it for some other non-consumption purpose, then don't worry about it. But if you're eating it, spend a bit more on the good stuff.
A jar full of sugar syrup of any sort isn't the healthiest thing you can buy, I admit. But certain dessert recipes call for this syrup and you have to live a little once in a while. We use about one of these jars a year, mostly around Thanksgiving. If you have to use it, this is the one to use.
This is another food we use as a treat for the kids. Again, not the healthiest food choice but it is made with organic whole grain wheat, it's non-GMO, and it doesn't taste as syrupy as similar conventional options. Sometimes you need a quick snack that can easily be packed into a lunch and this one fits the bill. I like to buy items that don't taste as sweet because it trains our kids not to expect as much sweetness in their foods. Note: Amazon only offered this as a 12-pack of boxes at the time of this writing so the price below is the per box price based on that quantity.
It was particularly difficult to do a direct comparison on this one. Vitacost also carries a private label version that is "grade A dark" which is what they used to call grade B so I used that. Amazon only carries two options right now so I chose the cheaper one, which is also grade A dark.
We try to keep sugar intake to a minimum but when we splurge we often go for maple syrup. As sweeteners go it's a wholesome option, particularly this organic version.
I should note that grade A vs. B in maple syrup is really a flavor distinction rather than a quality distinction. I actually prefer the deeper flavor of grade B so I'll probably buy this from Amazon in the future and save a few bucks.
Coconut sugar is fabulous (as sugars go) because it's low on the glycemic index and produces a slow release of energy. It is also high in nutrients compared to other sugars. Coconut sugar is often mixed with other, less beneficial, sugar so make sure you choose a pure one like this version from Big Tree Farms. This one is also fair trade, which is nice.