Trying Brandless

I hate paying full price for pantry goods. This includes coconut oil, olive oil, and sriracha. And friends who know me will tell you – I’ve done my fair share of grocery store research and dumpster diving in New York (wink, wink).

I first encountered Brandless on TechCrunch where founder Tina Sharkey discussed her vision to disrupt the prepared foods industry. The thing that immediately caught my attention was the fact that every item sold on the site was a flat $3. Her minimal pricing strategy was unconventional, different… impossible?

The looming question in the back of my mind was, how is Brandless able to sell a 10 oz. jar of organic coconut oil for $3. It turns out that by eliminating the “Brand Tax” and offering smaller portions, the impossible is possible.

I placed an order for some of my cooking essentials that needed to be restocked: organic coconut oil, gochujang (aka Korean chili paste, which I couldn’t believe they carried), Grade-A maple syrup, EVOO, and some individually packaged apple sauce. Might I add that Brandless also sells $3 kitchen utensils? I threw in a vegetable peeler just for good measure.

Initial Thoughts My order arrived 3 days later, on-time, and neatly packed into a compact brown box with shatter-proof padding. On an environmental note, what’s with all the excess packaging that these companies use?

If the bright turquoise color or bold Helvetica font doesn’t give it away, Brandless calls themselves the Proctor & Gamble/Unilever for millennials – health conscious, artisanal, yet affordable.

My entire bill for 6 items came out to a total of roughly $20. Cheap… until you add shipping which brings the price to approximately $30 and making each item an average price of $5 – reasonable but not WOW and certainly not impossible. (FYI: a 14 oz. jar of organic coconut oil from Sprouts is $6.99 and a 10 oz. jar of coconut oil from Brandless is $5 – they are essentially the same price if you assume that the quality is comparable).

The Taste The coconut oil was okay but nothing spectacular. The apple sauce was yummy. My favorite, though, had to be the gochujang sauce (traditionally one of the most processed items). The Brandless one didn’t contain any funky emulsifiers and I could pronounce all the ingredients. The taste was clean. My husband was a fan because it wasn’t too spicy.

I drizzled some of the EVOO on the raw vegan soup that I learned to make at Sun Cafe’s basic cooking class. It was the perfect accompaniment. I think Brandless is worth a try and I’m excited to see how they expand their business. I could see a huge advantage if they offer free-shipping or global flat-rate shipping. I do love that the box came straight to my door. New Yorkers who don’t want to carry a sh*t ton of glass jars on the subway? This may be your thing.