Thrive Market Review: Is it Worth it?

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I love food, and I’ve spent much of my life and career focused on it in my own kitchen and in restaurants. I try to be mindful of what I eat, choosing organic foods and those free of artificial ingredients as much as possible. Unfortunately, the healthy stuff often seems to be considerably more expensive than other groceries.

In the last few years, my grocery bills have soared—I’m guessing due to a lethal combination of inflation and working from home (my beloved restaurant “family meals” have been replaced by mid-afternoon snacks that I have to pay for!) It’s getting harder and harder to choose the healthy stuff when it feels like the amount I’m spending could have previously covered a month’s worth of groceries but now barely stretches a week. 

I heard about Thrive Market, a budget healthy food subscription service, and I wanted to give them a shot. Healthy, organic foods delivered straight to my door seemed a little too good to be true, and in some ways, it was. However, that doesn’t mean the subscription service isn’t for everyone. I’ve put together this Thrive Market review to offer some perspective on why this service isn’t for me but might work for others. 

Bottom Line Up Front

I really wanted to love Thrive Market, but I will be canceling my membership. I like the products they carry and think their service is great for certain people—especially those who don’t have access to healthy foods or need the convenience of grocery deliveries. I just really didn’t like a few aspects of their business practices. If Thrive Market allowed potential customers to browse their selection without first signing up for a membership, and if they didn’t make it so intentionally difficult to cancel, I think I would feel more confident recommending them. 

What is Thrive Market?

thrive market review

Thrive Market is a membership-based online market specializing in organic and sustainable products. They sell pantry staples, frozen foods (including meat and seafood), health and beauty supplies, and cleaning supplies. 

They sell recognizable brands like Bob’s Red Mill, Annie’s Homegrown, and Kodiak Cakes, in addition to their own Thrive Market branded products. Everything they sell is GMO-free and made without artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Some other ingredients, like cane sugar and palm oil, aren’t outright banned from their products, but they pay attention to where and how those ingredients are sourced. You can read more about the standards they set for their ingredients here

My Experience Ordering Thrive Market

I ordered a few groceries from Thrive Market to test it out. 

Ordering and Website

Thrive Market Ordering And Website

Right away, I was turned off by Thrive Market’s ordering process. I really didn’t like that I had to answer a survey, choose a plan, and enter my credit card information before they even let me browse what products they offered. It felt really shady, and honestly, if I weren’t planning on testing them out for the sake of this review, I probably would have “noped” right out of there without moving on to the next step. I couldn’t even find a sample shopping list or anything to browse first and see if I was even interested in what they offered. Super weird. 

Just finding a list of their available categories (or “aisles”) required me to open an incognito window and do some strategic searching. Then when I clicked on a category I was interested in, it brought me back to the same stupid survey! 

I was so annoyed that I almost gave up and didn’t order anything, but I finally broke down and started filling out the survey. I answered a few questions about who I shop for, my “values” regarding groceries (such as organic, sustainable, etc.), and any diets or lifestyles I might be interested in. Then I had to create an account and enter my credit card information to proceed. 

Once I finished all of that, I thought I was in the clear—I was wrong—more survey questions. From there, I had to choose categories that I usually shop (snacks, pantry, toiletries, pets, etc). Then I had to choose subcategories (chips, popcorn, fruit snacks, etc.)—I could also select “none of these” or “all of these.” After selecting my subcategories for each category, Thrive Market made “recommendations” based on what I said I usually buy at the store—fine, I guess, but that’s not really how I shop. If I need something, it goes on the list. Impulse buys absolutely happen, but their recommendations felt like they missed the mark. By the fourth or fifth category, I just started clicking “All of these” to see if anything looked interesting. 

At one point, I tried clicking “none of these” to see what would happen. It just skipped the whole category and wouldn’t let me go back. Guess I’m not getting any toiletries in this order. Some of the products weren’t listed where I expected them to be—for example, I couldn’t find any canned beans under canned goods but later found them under grains. I also selected in the survey that I drink coffee, but no coffee was recommended to me. Bummer. 

By the time I finished the survey and recommendations back and forth, I had a handful of random things in my cart but nothing I particularly needed or wanted. At this point, I was finally able to go through and shop “aisle by aisle.” I opted to browse that way and ended up choosing a few things that I hadn’t seen on the recommendations—all in all, the survey felt like a massive waste of time. 

One last thing I realized was that when I clicked certain things to add them to my cart, two or three of the same items were automatically added. I realized as I was trying to check out that this was because certain products had two or even three counts as minimums. Of the six different items I ordered, five were automatically set to auto-ship, meaning they would send out those five items every month until I chose to cancel them. 

Shopping Lists

Thrive Market Ordering And Website

One thing I did really appreciate about Thrive Market was the ways in which you could browse (after they release you from that cursed survey!) They make it easy to browse by common diets and lifestyles, like vegan, paleo, or gluten-free, as well as a wide variety of less common values, like certified biodynamic, septic system safe, and compostable.

You can also set the search feature to exclude allergens when you browse, and they list a lot more than the most common “top eight” allergens—things like yeast, fragrances, and dyes are also included in their allergen list. You can find the complete list of ways to sort Thrive Market’s items here

Less helpful, but still nice, were the “shopping lists.” You can browse curated collections of grocery items like “Gifts for New Mom” or “Active Lifestyle Snacks.” You can pick and choose items for the list or add the whole collection to your cart at the click of a button. Although this feature seems somewhat extraneous, I could see it coming in handy if you were shopping with a mission in mind and didn’t want to spend unnecessary time browsing the whole site.

Prices 

When you sign up for Thrive Market, you pay a monthly ($12/month) or yearly ($60/year, equalling $5/month) membership fee to use the service. You then pay for groceries from them at a discounted rate, though I must say, the “discounted rate” seems to vary from product to product—I’m pretty sure I bought that same  Mrs. Meyers hand soap refill at Target last weekend for the exact same price.

A box of Banza pasta was only $0.19 cheaper than on Amazon, and a 96 oz box of Wandering Bear cold brew is $3 cheaper at Thrive Market than on the Wandering Bear website—unless you subscribe through Wandering Bear, in which case the carton is a dollar cheaper from them. 

That is to say, whether you actually save enough to make the membership fee worthwhile will depend on the volume of groceries you purchase through Thrive Market. If you use them for most of your shopping, you’ll probably save some cash vs. buying similar products from a specialty store. If you still go to a regular grocery store for your pantry staples and things you can’t find at Thrive Market, it might not be worth it. 

According to the Thrive Market website, every annual membership sponsors a free membership for a family in need. I guess that’s nice, but I feel like there should be a way of doing away with the memberships entirely—maybe that’s just me. 

One final thing to add is that although they do have a selection of frozen foods, like meat, seafood, plant-based proteins, frozen dinners, and gluten-free pizza, frozen foods are shipped separately and cost an additional $19.95 per box. 

Unboxing

It wasn’t very surprising that all of Thrive Market’s packaging was recyclable. My order was shipped in a cardboard box with very minimal cushioning. There was a piece of folded kraft paper on top of the items, and the two soda cans I ordered were wrapped in brown paper mesh. I can’t stand unnecessary packaging, but I feel like a little bit more void fill might have been helpful here—the box was a little beat up, and one of my soda cans was dented, though I can’t say whether that happened in transit. 

I did really appreciate their commitment to sustainable shipping practices. All of their shipping materials are 100% recyclable (they even used paper tape to seal up the box), and they offset their emissions so that all of their shipping is carbon-neutral. According to their website, they even offset the emissions from their employees’ commutes. 

What I Ordered

Since I wanted everything to come in one shipment, I elected to forgo the frozen foods and only order pantry items from Thrive Market. 

Thrive Market Brand Plantain Chips: Sea Salt

Thrive Market Brand Plantain Chips: Sea Salt
Image by Lauren Vigdor

The plantain chips were the first thing I tried from Thrive Market, and I was very happy with them! They were delicious and were a decent price for the size of the bag—each bag cost $2.56 and contained five servings. The chips were crunchy and salty (but not too salty.) They didn’t lack flavor the way some plantain chips do. 

One thing I thought was weird was that this was one of those items with a minimum for ordering. I had to order two bags, which was fine because I’ll eat them, but I still can’t figure out why it was necessary. 

Thrive Market Brand ​​Organic Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds

Thrive Market Brand ​​Organic Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds
Image by Lauren Vigdor

I was less of a fan of these (though that didn’t stop me from finishing a bag within a week—what can I say? Chocolate is chocolate.) I love that they use ethically sourced cacao and that they’re sweetened with organic coconut sugar, but the chocolate coating was just too sweet for my taste—especially for dark chocolate. The chocolate also felt weirdly soft. It had a matte coating, rather than the shiny chocolate coating you’ll see on more commercial chocolates, but that didn’t really bother me. As I said, I already ate the first bag and will definitely eat them all, but I’m kind of annoyed that I had to order a minimum of three bags for some reason.

Thrive Market Brand Organic Fruit Circles: Super Sunny Strawberry

These were not what I thought I was ordering, but I wasn’t disappointed. I saw “peel and eat” and was picturing some sort of organic, all-natural Twizzlers. If I had paid closer attention to the item photos, I would have noticed that these are small rounds of fruit leather on a strip of paper. Lucky for me, I enjoyed these. They come in a box of ten individual pouches, which makes these perfect for lunch boxes and on-the-go snacks. The fruit flavor was delicious, and I love that they’re pretty much just made with blended and dried fruit—they only contain about half a dozen ingredients, most of which are fruit purees or juices. 

Poppi Root Beer

Poppi Root Beer
Image by Lauren Vigdor

This was one of only two non-Thrive Market brand products I tried, and I must say, I was not a fan. That’s not to say that the product was bad—I think it just wasn’t for me. Poppi is a prebiotic soda company made with apple cider vinegar and fruit juices. While this did taste like root beer, I could also taste the vinegar, which didn’t bother me (I like vinegary drinks), but it might bother some people. One thing I didn’t like about this was that although it’s made with cane sugar, they also use stevia (I guess to keep the calorie count down), which I personally do not like at all—this had a very distinct stevia aftertaste to it, which tasted a little chemically to me. 

I see these everywhere, though, so if you do like this brand, Thrive Market might be a good place to stock up. They carry several different flavors, and you can buy them for just $1.77 per can (there is a minimum of two cans per order). They have several different flavors as well as some sampler packs. 

Thrive Market Brand Organic Overnight Oats: Double Chocolate Berry

These were super easy to make! All I had to do was mix equal parts of the oat mixture with a liquid (I used almond milk) and let it sit overnight (or for at least six hours) in the fridge. Other than the fact that I had to remember to mix it the night before, making these was no more difficult or time-consuming than pouring myself a bowl of cereal—it’s the perfect lazy breakfast. 

Thrive Market Brand Organic Overnight Oats: Double Chocolate Berry
Image by Lauren Vigdor
Thrive Market Brand Organic Overnight Oats: Double Chocolate Berry
Image by Lauren Vigdor

Unfortunately, the oats themselves were just ok. The flavor was fine, but they were pretty bland. I barely detected any chocolate or berry flavors, though I did like that they weren’t too sweet. I would maybe buy these again, but only for the sake of convenience, and I would probably try a different flavor. Otherwise, I would just buy the ingredients and make a big batch of the dry mix myself to store and use as needed. 

Yolélé Fonio: African Supergrain

This was the product I was most excited about ordering from Thrive Market. I’m an adventurous eater and have had the opportunity to try many things while working in restaurants, but I had never tasted or even seen this before. I think one of the best parts of my whole experience trying Thrive Market was that it helped me discover something new! 

The Fonio was super easy to prepare—it looked similar to finely ground grits and cooked in just five minutes on the stove. The taste was subtle and a little nutty, not unlike Cream of Wheat. It’s definitely something that will take on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. I could see myself keeping this on regular rotation in my pantry. It’s a healthy, super quick, versatile grain. 

Canceling My Membership

It took me forever to figure out how to cancel my membership. I clicked every link I could find on the Account Information page before finally heading to the FAQs. After scrolling past a long manifesto on what benefits I receive from my membership, I finally got to the line suggesting that I click the webchat icon to connect with an agent who would assist me in canceling my membership. 

I feel like this is a bad look, Thrive Market. Even if I had considered hanging on to my membership, the fact that you’re seemingly making it intentionally difficult to cancel has made me angry, so now I’m definitely canceling. 

I chatted with an agent who asked why I was canceling and then offered me two free months of membership plus $10 in “Thrive Cash” to not cancel—it really seems like they try to make it as difficult as possible to get out of this! While I must admit I admire their commitment to keeping members, Thrive Market just isn’t for me. Also, it’s worth noting that Thrive Cash expires 30 days after it’s issued.

Thrive Market Pros and Cons

Pros

  • I love that all their products are free of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and GMOs. 
  • They carry a lot of products that I purchase regularly, including name brands I love. 
  • I like that in addition to pantry staples, they also carry clean beauty, green cleaning products, and even some home goods like reusable straws. 
  • Products are offered at a discount compared to most other grocery stores. 
  • I was really excited to discover Fonio through Thrive Market—it’s something that I’ve never had before, and I don’t know that I would have found it otherwise. 
  • I liked how easy it was to sort items by dietary restrictions, lifestyles, and allergens. I think they have one of the most inclusive sort lists I’ve ever seen in this regard. 

Cons

  • I really didn’t like feeling like I was being tricked into signing up for a membership. 
  • I also didn’t like that I couldn’t just click a button to cancel my membership—it’s 2023! Everyone lets you do this now! 
  • While I appreciated the minimal paper packaging used to ship everything, one of my soda cans arrived dented. 
  • They don’t sell fresh produce, and shipping is separate (and costs $20 more) for frozen goods. 

Other Alternatives to Consider

If you don’t think Thrive Market is right for you, check out some of our favorite bulk grocery delivery services, or consider one of the options below: 

  • Instacart: Instacart is one of the biggest players in the grocery delivery game. Unlike Thrive Market, Instacart doesn’t ship from specific fulfillment centers. Rather, they coordinate someone to shop at a local grocery store for you and deliver the groceries to your door. 

Grocery Delivery You Can Count On | Instacart

Instacart is a North American leader in online grocery delivery. We strive to help make grocery delivery effortless, affordable, and accessible to everyone. Our technology gives customers access to their favorite stores online so they can order groceries from anywhere.

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  • Misfits Market: Misfits Market sells a lot of the same stuff as Thrive Market, but they also sell fresh produce, dairy, and eggs. Membership includes a weekly automatic delivery of groceries picked for you. You can choose to modify your order or skip it if need be. 

Cut Your Grocery Bill and Your Food Waste | Misfitsmarket

Most products that Misfits Market offers are organic and free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The company offers products that may suit those who avoid gluten. It offers products that people following a keto or paleo diet can eat.

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  • Hungryroot: Hungryroot sells healthy groceries, but you can also shop by recipe, which means it can also function as a meal kit service. Choose a particular recipe, and Hungryroot will add all the necessary ingredients to your cart. 

FAQs

Question: Does Thrive Market have physical locations? 

Answer: Thrive Market is an online-only market. They have fulfillment centers in the Midwest, East Coast, and West Coast from which orders ship out, but they don’t have any brick-and-mortar markets. 

Question: Do you have to order every month from Thrive Market? 

Answer: You don’t have to order monthly from Thrive Market (but you will be charged your membership fee). You can order as frequently or infrequently as you like—just be aware that some products will auto-ship unless you deselect that option on your account. 

Question: Does Thrive Market have fresh fruits and vegetables? 

Answer: While Thrive Market may have some fresh produce available, depending on availability and your location, they don’t regularly offer fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Thrive Market Review: Final Thoughts

Like I said, I really wanted to like Thrive Market, but the fact that it felt like they were trying every trick in the book to force people into signing up and retaining their membership completely turned me off to the whole company. I do think they could be helpful if you live somewhere where you don’t have access to stores selling healthy foods, and I genuinely do like the products that they carry. If you’re thinking about using Thrive Market, I would just make sure you’ll order enough products frequently enough to offset the cost of membership. 

Continue reading:

How to Cancel Thrive Market Membership Quickly

Misfits Market Review: Is It Worth It?

Butcherbox vs Thrive Market Meat: Which Is Better?

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