Is It Worth the Price? (March 2020 Update)


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. 

Amazon

Amazon.com

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

thrivemarket

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:

  1. “I didn’t know there was a membership fee”
  2. 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). 

thrive market reviews

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. 

Thrive Markets products

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. 

Nature’s Path Honey Oat Crunch Granola Bars

Thrive Market's Nature's Path Granola Bars from Thrive Market

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. 

Primal Kitchen Mayo from Thrive Market

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. 

Thrive Market brand ghee

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.

Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda from Thrive Market

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. 

Organic Brown Rice Syrup from Thrive Market

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.

Organic Bunny Grahams Snacks from Thrive Market

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.

Thrive Market brand organic maple syrup

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.

Big Tree Farms Organic Coconut Sugar from Thrive Market

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.

Clif Kid Organic Fruit Rope from Thrive Market

Again, this is not a health food per se, but a replacement for what “other kids” eat and our kids want to try. We very rarely go to a theater but if we do or if we watch a movie at home and want to give the kids a rare treat, we give them these as a substitute for Twizzlers. Twizzlers are of course so full of refined sugars, dyes and GMOs that they are hardly a food at all. 

I will say that these don’t taste like Twizzlers at all really, they just kind of look like them.  They don’t taste worse than Twizzlers, just different. They are actually sweeter to my palate than Twizzlers. They are also stickier and have less of a waxy texture. It’s still candy, but the ingredients are FAR better than real Twizzlers. ​Note: This is an add-on item at Amazon; to get free shipping it has to be tacked on to a larger order.

Alive & Radiant Foods Kale Krunch from Thrive Market

This is a great healthy snack. It’s actually dairy-free despite the cheese flavor and it is kale, so it’s packed with nutrition. There are various flavors; you don’t have to stick with cheese. It’s also raw, which is unusual for packaged foods. The only problem with this snack is that it’s super easy to eat a whole bag in a sitting, making it a very expensive snack.

The Ginger People Organic Pickled Sushi Ginger from Thrive Market

Here’s one you probably don’t think about. We are big sushi eaters in our household; even the kids love it though they eat veggie-only sushi. Conventional sushi ginger has tons of added chemicals. This organic sushi ginger has wonderful, pure ingredients. It’s more expensive than the free version that comes with the sushi of course, but if you eat it frequently I think it’s a worthwhile upgrade. 

Pacific Organic Pumpkin Puree from Thrive Market

I love both how this pumpkin purée is organic and isn’t in a can. Canned foods often contain plastics and BPA that can leach into your food.

We don’t use a lot of this either, just for soups and around Thanksgiving. It’s another healthier option that is worth the upgrade. 

Note: The only option on Amazon was a 12 pack so below is the per box price based on ordering 12 boxes at a time.

Simply Organic Thyme from Thrive Market

I like to buy organic spices when possible. They’re free of fillers, chemical preservatives and pesticides. This is especially important for spices like turmeric that come mainly from regions with fewer regulations than we have in the US (not that those are fantastic either). 

This is a brand (Simply Organic) that you can get pretty readily at many grocery stores but I often find better deals online. 

Note: This is an add-on item at Amazon so free shipping will only apply if you combine it with a larger order.

Wild Albacore Tuna from Thrive Market

Again, BPA and plastic lining in cans leaches chemicals into your food. Not all canned goods contain a BPA-based epoxy lining though. On the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website, there is a list of companies that use this lining and a list of companies that use BPA-free linings. However, glass jars like this are a proven healthy choice. This tuna is packed in olive oil, which makes it extra healthy. An overzealous TSA agent confiscated and tossed this particular jar, so I’m looking forward to actually tasting it when my next order arrives.

Note: This product was only available in a 4 pack on Amazon so this is the per jar price based on buying 4 at once.

Jovial Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes

It seems odd because they are just tomatoes, but this is another item that’s difficult to find offline even though we live near a major metropolitan area. It’s the specific combination of features in this case.

The tomatoes are organic, whole and come in a glass jar as opposed to a can. This is a great product to have on hand for any number of recipes involving tomatoes. 

Note: The Amazon price is the per jar cost based on buying a 6 pack. 

Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning

We’re big on probiotics and fermented foods; anything that is healthy for your gut. Bragg is a leading brand in this regard so it’s not too difficult to find this at a local health store. However, it’s also just the kind of packaged product on which you can get a better deal if you shop online. 

​This is a seasoning, essentially a salt replacement. I’m not really convinced that sea salt is bad for you, but this seasoning adds some flavor and nutrients that you wouldn’t get from sea salt. 

Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin

Sometimes when you’re cooking you need the consistency that gelatin provides or a good binding agent. It’s not for the vegans, but this gelatin is derived from beef and provides the collagen that helps with joint issues. It’s also said to be good for your skin.

Collagen has increased in popularity due to its claims that it can improve/strengthen hair, skin, and nails and help reduce bone and joint pain. Studies conducted to determine the effects of collagen in reducing joint pain or arthritis come up with mixed results. So, there is no real evidence or strong studies to back up these claims at this time. However, collagen is typically seen as safe so there are no serious side effects that would arise from taking collagen. However, a few people have reported rashes or diarrhea.

Those on keto or paleo diets will love this, because it is pure protein. And this is a cut-and-dry case of much better pricing at Thrive Market.

Thrive Market brand Wild Pink Salmon

Everyone probably gets that I’m not a huge fan of food that comes in a can. However, it’s a very common way to eat fish and this canned salmon is still a healthier option than many choices on the market.

The closest comparison is Wild Planet’s products because they are also sustainably caught in the wild. This product from Thrive Market is labeled prominently as “Non-GMO” though I would assume that’s true of all wild-caught salmon. 

Thrive Market Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

We use a lot of apple cider vinegar. It’s great for recipes, home remedies, and just as a daily tonic. I take a couple teaspoons in my water as soon as I wake up every day. 

This is another tough direct comparison because Thrive Market’s private label version comes in an unusual 16.9 oz bottle. The comparison product is the most common brand, Bragg, and prices are calculated to be equivalent to Thrive Market. That means the prices below are all for 16.9 ounces.

Thrive Market Turmeric Powder

Turmeric has many health benefits and is a flavorful addition to many dishes. It’s a product that I consider critical to buy organic though, because it can otherwise contain a lot of pesticides otherwise. 

To make a direct comparison I scaled all the prices to be based on 1.45 oz. like the Thrive Market version. The others come in a bottle rather than a bag but that’s irrelevant to me as I wouldn’t pay extra for packaging. As usual, there’s a big advantage to buying in larger quantities with turmeric. If you bought a one-pound bag you could cut all these prices in half. It just depends on how much turmeric powder your household uses.

Nellie's Oxygen Brightener for Laundry

We’re always on the lookout for laundry products that both work well and are all-natural. It’s always a bonus when no one in the house is allergic to what’s in our clothes. 

This oxygen brightener fits the bill, helping to keep white things white and remove stains to some degree. Vitacost doesn’t carry this particular product. 

Dr. Bronner's All-One Toothpaste - Cinnamon and Anise flavors

Choosing a better toothpaste is an easy way to cut down on your exposure to toxic chemicals. This one from Dr. Bronner’s uses natural non-GMO and vegan ingredients. It has no fluoride (a good thing) and uses no sweeteners. 

I’ve used non-fluoride toothpaste for years without any issues. The job toothpaste needs to do is pretty limited. If I didn’t mind the flavor I’d just use some baking soda and be done with it. 

Tom's of Maine Deodorant

Another great way to cut toxic chemicals out of your life is by changing your deodorant. When I was in college I went to the doctor with rashes under my arms and he told me that he hadn’t used deodorant in 20 years and I should stop too. 

I wasn’t quite comfortable with that so I went out and tested a variety of them, landing on one that kind of worked and was natural. These days there are many options but this is one of the best in my opinion. I’ve been using it for years and specifically like the lemongrass scent version. A lot of people have to apply natural deodorants twice a day, but that’s a small price to pay to avoid slathering yourself with aluminum and other toxins. 

MegaFood Zinc Supplement

I was pretty curious to see what happens when we move into the realm of supplements because I buy nearly all of mine from Amazon. I’ve never been able to schedule things such that the subscribe and save option makes sense for me, but I like the lightning fast shipping options. 

The Amazon price is the one-off price. If you use subscribe and save it is also slightly lower than Thrive Market’s price. It looks like the penalty for quick shipping is light on this item but I’ll have to look at more supplements.

Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap

We love this soap and use it for showering mostly. Here’s the thing about this soap is that it clogs. It gums up the reasonably large hole in the cap, so putting it in a dispenser is out of the question. 

However, if you can put up with that minor annoyance you’ll get a soap that smells good, cleans well and has very natural ingredients. It also comes in a large container that lasts a while. 

Giovanni Wicked Texture Hair Gel

My husband LOVES this stuff. It’s the only hair gel he’ll use now. Like most personal care products, hair products usually contain a lot of toxic chemicals. They’re probably worse than most personal products in that regard. 

This one feels fairly light going on but holds well and has the unusual benefit of making your hair appear darker than it is. My husband has salt and pepper hair but when the gel is on it looks about half as gray as normal.

We’ve been buying this for years and usually when we have a good discount code we’ll buy ten at a time. At this quantity, I know our target price for this item is between $5-$6. I’ve gotten it as low as $5.25 but sometimes had to pay $8 because of limited availability. Thrive Market’s normal price is in my target zone though, which makes this a slam dunk for them. 

If You Care Parchment Baking Paper

Here’s one I bet most people don’t think about–baking sheets. What surface does your food touch while it bakes? Hopefully it’s not a non-stick surface, which guarantees you some toxins with your baked goods.

Many other products contain either toxic chemicals or metals that you’d be better off not consuming with your freshly-baked cookies. As usual, you have to read the labels, but I have and so I use this particular baking paper. It’s a quality baking paper and is created with a mind toward not imparting toxins to your food. 

Thanks for reading our Thrive Market review! Are there other products you’d like to see? We’re happy to swap these out for more popular items or even review some more Thrive Market private label items if you’d like. Let us know in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: Who owns Thrive Market?A: Thrive Market is a venture-funded start-up company that has taken on a lot of funding. This typically means that the company’s founders and employees own a minority stake and that most of the company is owned by the investors. 
  • Q: Where is Thrive Market located?A: Thrive Market is not a physical storefront but an online-only store, much like Amazon. This usually means there are multiple distribution centers from which they ship products. However, the company is headquartered in Marina Del Rey, California.
  • Q: How does Thrive Market make money?A: They make money the same way Costco does. They charge a small annual fee, but most of their profit comes from selling products for more than they pay for them. It’s the same business model that every retail store has. 
  • Q: What products does Thrive Market carry?A: Their product set is broad and growing. Most of the products are food, but they also sell personal hygiene items, supplements and some durable items like essential oil diffusers. In all, their product set is similar to any large grocery store, just focused on healthy products.





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