Gunnar Lovelace is founder and Co-CEO at Thrive Market, an online wholesale-buying club committed to sustainability and social justice. Lovelace is a is a lifelong health advocate and serial entrepreneur. He grew up as a child of a single mother, and experienced first hand how hard it was for families on fixed budgets to make healthy choices. At Thrive Market, he and his partners are on a mission to make healthy living accessible and affordable to everyone.
In this episode, we dive into how Thrive Market built their business, what strategies they use to offer high quality foods to underserved markets, why we need more supplements than ever before, the new regenerative organic certification, and more. Enjoy!
Special bonus: Tune in to the very beginning of the video podcast on YouTube to watch a 10 minute guided tour of Thrive Market’s headquarters by Gunnar Lovelace.
Accessible and affordable high quality food
Thrive Model built a unique membership model that allows them to deliver high quality organic, non-GMO foods throughout the nation. Their model is based on cutting a lot of middlemen from the supply chain of traditional retailers, such as, co-packers, brands, brokers, distributors, retailers, and more. That allows them to sell food to a wide audience without additional markups. Thrive Market is sort of an online Costco, full of only healthy, high quality products.
“At the core of Thrive Market, we sell organic and non-GMO groceries at the same price as conventional equivalence for the first time in history, shipped to your home for free, in eco-friendly packaging.” — Gunnar Lovelace
- Focusing on underserved markets — 50% of Thrive Market customers are located in the midwest and the south (in the USA). Coastal states and cities have better accessibility to high quality foods, but Thrive Market figured out how to serve markets with very little to no access. Most likely, no matter where you are in the states, you can get high quality foods in your hometown.
- “Content is marketing and marketing is content.”—Thrive Market is highly focused on their brand. In a time where people don’t trust their traditional food sources, Thrive Market is strict on adhering to their values. They choose very carefully the brands they work with and make sure to protect the trust they built with their customers.
- Growing a food retailer business — Thrive Market focused on a growth strategy, and lost a lot of money on every sale in the beginning, knowing eventually they’ll hit the scale needed to become profitable. Although Lovelace and his partners got rejected by every VC around the nation, it ended up being a blessing. They raised $10 million from 150 mega-bloggers, which also helped with organic marketing.
- We need more supplements now because traditional foods are being mishandled — 100 years ago everybody ate organic whole foods. But now the norm is to eat chemically sprayed produce and malnutritioned animal products, which is why we need more supplements to balance our health.
- Regenerative Organic Certification — There is a new, higher bar, organic label in the works called the Regenerative Organic Certification. This new label is focused on enriching the soil, while valuing people and animals. When we grow food on dead soil with chemical fertilizers grows, it creates empty calorie produce. The new certification process will increase responsibility and make for a better, healthier planet.
- Thrive Market is the largest food retailer that sells exclusively non-GMO groceries — GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are in almost everything these days, which is not necessarily bad, but it can get bad. When GMOs are made in large scale, it is usually done with massive amounts of poison, which our foods might be able to withstand it, but also absorb, and it’s not healthy for humans or the planet. Thrive Market isn’t against GMO, they just think it needs to be done more slowly and properly.
- Thoughtful partnerships — Lovelace and his business partners travel to check out food retailers and growers themselves. They like to get to know the business owners well and see the operations in-person, making sure they bring the highest quality foods and ingredients into Thrive Market.
- Recommended apps to scan products for health evaluation — EWG’s Healthy Living and Thrive Market (an award winning app).
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