Online natural and organic grocer Thrive Markets has entered the perishables arena with the launch of Thrive Market Meat & Seafood.
The membership-based retailer has introduced about a dozen SKUs of frozen beef, pork, poultry and seafood, said co-founder and chief executive officer Nick Green. In sourcing the products, sold under the Thrive Market brand, the company built its own supply chain by partnering with small and midsize farmers and fishermen around the world that use ethical, sustainable and regenerative raising practices.
Thrive Market’s beef is from Patagonia, which the retailer said is one of the few places on earth where cattle can roam on the same lush grass 12 months a year. The pork is part of a multispecies rotational grazing program, and the chicken is sourced from a collective that supports family farms transitioning to free-range and organic practices.
For the seafood, Thrive Market only sources sustainable species, which are wild-caught or sustainably farmed (as in the case of barramundi).
“Our goal is to create an alternative to the industrial agricultural model,” Green told Supermarket News. “Rather than buying from huge producers, we are going up the supply chain directly to farmers or farmers’ collectives, paying them more and empowering them to switch from conventional modes of agriculture. We see this as an opportunity to have a new paradigm for protein production that’s not just based on yield and cost but also takes into account human health, animal welfare and environmental impact.”
He added, “We think there’s a broad base of consumers who are more interested in aligning their consumption with those values. Our model enables them to do that without having to pay so much.”
The meat is sold in bundles and ships in dry ice. Bundles include multiple packs of beef, poultry, pork or seafood, or customers can buy mixed bundles or kits with several types of meat.
“We worked with the farmers to think about how we can use more of the animal and have different cuts to really give people variety so they can have their full meat needs met with a given bundle,” Green said.
Prices are up to 20% to 40% less than comparable items at competing retailers, according to Thrive Markets.
“Part of the way we get the pricing is by reducing the number of middlemen in the supply chain,” Green said. “By going directly to farmers and farmer collectives, we can pay the farmer more and pass on savings to our members.”
Adding meat and seafood marks another step in Thrive Market’s plan to become a full-service online grocery retailer, he noted. Since the company’s launch three years ago, it has sold only consumer packaged goods, such as natural and organic groceries, snacks, dietary supplements, beauty care, home care and baby products.
“This is our first foray outside consumer packaged goods,” Green told SN. “We’ve looked at a bunch of different categories, but we felt meat and seafood was the most important place to start.”
Forty-five percent of traditional grocery sales are nonperishable items, and 15% is meat and seafood, according to Green. “We want to get into more of grocery. So, it’s an opportunity to expand our share of wallet and tackle an area of food that we think is particularly important from a supply chain improvement standpoint.”
So far, customers have embraced the new meat and seafood offerings, which made their debut in a beta launch several weeks prior to the full rollout.
“We knew the response would be strong because our members have been asking us about meat and seafood for a long time. But it sort of has blown us away how quickly they responded and how strong the sales have been,” Green said.
More meat items are slated to be added going forward, including more cuts of poultry, beef and pork, he added. Thrive Markets is scaling operations with three new frozen distribution centers to meet expected demand.
“Our goal is to be a one-stop shop for our members, where all of their healthy living needs can be met,” Green said.