Whole Foods vs. Fresh Direct: Which is Better?


Online grocery shopping has never been so popular. So, as someone who’s worked in the grocery industry for 20+ years and takes grocery shopping very seriously, I’ve decided to do some research on two popular grocery delivery services – Whole Foods vs. Fresh Direct.

Here’s the basic comparison:

Whole Foods vs. Fresh Direct. Fresh Direct partners with locals farmers and fishermen to ensure extremely fresh & local products. Whole Foods, however, has a much wider selection of produce. Also, Fresh Direct doesn’t offer same-day deliveries and is more expensive than Whole Foods.

But that’s not the whole story. 

There are many more points of difference between Whole Foods and Fresh Direct. For instance, you must also know which of the two is expensive or has better delivery time and packages. Also, they vary in terms of the variety of produce, among other things. 

Keep reading to find out how the two services differ!

What is Fresh Direct, and is it more expensive than Amazon Fresh delivery from Whole Foods?

Fresh Direct is an online grocery service.

And yes, it is more expensive than Amazon Fresh. Keep reading to find out what they offer and how the two services compare to each other.

Fresh Direct is best known for its selection of fresh produce, seafood, and prepared foods.

Their groceries are custom packaged, weighed, and priced. Fresh Direct has its own grocery facility, so it’s unlike other services where a random shopper buys your groceries from multiple stores.

Regular groceries found in your typical grocery store are available as well as a wide selection of Kosher foods.

Creating an account with Fresh Direct is free, and you immediately unlock the ease of online grocery shopping. That being said, their delivery fees range from $5.99 to $15.99, depending on your area.

Fresh Direct does offer three premium memberships.

Delivery Pass membership – 6 month 

This membership costs $79 and auto-renews at six months, though you can cancel anytime.

Delivery Pass membership – 1 year

If you plan to use the service for longer and more frequently, you can opt for the one-year Delivery Pass membership that costs $129.

That saves you $29 already.

Mid-Week Delivery membership – 6 month 

The final membership is the six-month Midweek delivery costing a single payment of $39. This plan allows you to have groceries delivered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, free of cost.

These three memberships get you unlimited free delivery, freebies, exclusive promotions, and the option to reserve your delivery time slots.

You can reserve a time slot of one week before you checkout. But that’s not the best part! As a first-timer, Fresh Direct gives you a two month free trial of the DeliveryPass membership.

But what about Amazon Fresh?

Amazon Fresh is amazing! Your Prime Membership allows you to get free delivery on all orders that meet the minimum order threshold.

You also get an additional 10% off sale prices.

They offer Attended Delivery, Unattended Delivery, and Pickup in select areas. Your groceries are delivered in just 2 hours after checkout, and it gets even better! Amazon Fresh Pickup has no minimum order, and you can pick up your groceries in just 30 minutes.

Is Fresh Direct worth it?

Fresh Direct allows its customers to enjoy convenience without compromising.

The company partners with local farmers and fishermen to provide fresh produce and seafood. They go the extra mile to distribute meat and dairy from the source.

But there’s more to be considered. Just keep reading!

Unlike Amazon Fresh, Fresh Direct doesn’t allow you to get same-day delivery. However, you can order a day ahead, as late as 11 pm, and your groceries will be delivered at your chosen timeslot the following day.

With the paid memberships, you can reserve a timeslot up to 1 week before you want your groceries delivered.

So it’s worth mentioning that the service will be the best fit if you want scheduled deliveries but not for emergency grocery shopping.

Fresh Direct does send you frequent emails with great discounts and promo codes, which is a great way to save money. Keep an eye out for those, and you are sure to catch some good deals.

While Fresh Direct does have a decent selection of seafood, meats, produce, and a variety of brands to choose from, you might have trouble finding items if you have dietary restrictions.

This is not the case with Whole Foods. Whether its Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vegan, or Keto-Friendly, they have foods for every specialty diet.

Whole Foods has such a wide selection of products not found in your typical grocery store. And you might think that’s the only reason they are more expensive than other grocers.

I worked with Whole Foods for many, many years, so I’m a source you can trust. Check out my recent article on why Whole Foods is more expensive. But I also cover just how much prices have dropped since Amazon bought them.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Where Fresh Direct wins over Amazon Fresh is through packaging. While it can be a hassle to unpack, Fresh Direct distributes groceries in special padded packaging to prevent damage.

You can expect that your avocados will be bruise-free, and your wine glasses won’t crack during transport. Amazon Fresh does have insulated and reusable shopping bags.

However, there is no extra care to protect the more delicate groceries like a bottle of wine.

What is the minimum online order for Fresh Direct and Whole Foods?

Fresh Direct’s minimum order is $30, and this does not include their delivery fee and tax.

According to their FAQ page, the minimum order for corporate deliveries is $50. In Manhattan, the delivery fee is $14.99 and $9.99 elsewhere.

Whole Foods gives you free delivery on orders $35 and over.

It isn’t hard to spend $35, especially if you have a large family. Any orders less than that amount, the delivery fee is $4.99. Another perk of meeting the $35 threshold is express delivery within 1 hour of checkout.

This is perfect for those last-minute grocery needs. However, if your delivery address isn’t eligible for this, then you will have to meet a $50 threshold to get free shipping.

How do Fresh Direct service areas compare to Whole Foods?

Fresh Direct only delivers to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Here is a complete list of delivery areas and delivery fees.

Whole Foods has 487 locations in the United States.

The stores operate in 355 cities, with 88 in California alone. Here’s an updated list of Whole Foods locations. Amazon Fresh is available in more than 2,000 cities, so the chance of your delivery address not being eligible is very slim. And remember, you still have the Pickup option.

If you’re a wine lover, this next bit might not be comforting.

Fresh Direct does not deliver alcohol outside the state of New York. They have hundreds of wines and spirits, but this won’t benefit you if you don’t live in New York. This is a great inconvenience since you would pay to have groceries but still have to lug with alcohol from the liquor store.

Amazon Fresh does deliver alcohol in all cities where the service is available.

They also have a wider selection of alcohol. The requirement is the same as other grocery delivery services. You must be either 21 years or older and will have to show a valid ID upon delivery.

Now, you might wonder if any other delivery services deliver alcohol.

Check out my recent article on the Instacart delivery service and whether they deliver alcohol or not. I cover their alcohol delivery policies, how to order, alcohol laws, and so much more!

Click on the link to read all about it.

What is the best grocery delivery service?

Amazon Fresh is considered the best grocery delivery service. Here’s why.

All that is required to use Amazon Fresh is an Amazon Prime Membership. You get free delivery as long as the order is $35 or more. The $119 fee a year is less than Fresh Direct’s $129, plus you get added benefits.

The selection is vast compared to other services, and the customer service is exceptional.

Instacart is another popular grocery delivery service with great convenience. Your shopper can deliver your order to your hotel room for hotels that allow it.

With Instacart, you can constantly communicate with your shopper and get your items from your favorite stores.

There are downsides, though. Your order might not be delivered on time, and items cannot be stored at the correct temperatures for long. You’ll also have to worry about price markups from different stores.

It can be frustrating to find out that your order of $60 went up to $115 at checkout.

Let me save you the trouble of figuring it out on your own. Here’s my recent article on why Instacart charges more than the store.

I cover everything on which stores use markups and the ones that don’t. I also go in detail on how to use Instacart Pickup. Click that link to get the scoop!

Did I cover all you wanted to know about Whole Foods vs. Fresh Direct?

In this article, we examined whether Fresh Direct is more expensive than Amazon Fresh and realized that delivery is cheaper with Amazon Fresh.

We also discussed whether Fresh Direct was worth it or not and compared the minimum order total for both services. You also learned how Fresh Direct’s service areas compare to Whole Foods’.

Amazon Fresh and Fresh Direct are both great delivery services, but it is obvious, which is better. Overall, shopping at Whole Foods through Amazon Fresh is better based on convenience, selection, cost, and quality.


Photos which require attribution:

Amazon Fresh truck in Pioneer Square by SounderBruce and Fresh Direct by Andy Roberts is licensed under CC2.0

Jeff Campbell

Hi! I'm Jeff Campbell. I was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades. I worked in 9 stores in 4 states, not counting the hundred-plus stores I've assisted in other ways. I was a Global All-Star, a Gold Pen Winner, and won Top-10 Store (company-wide) 3 times in addition to Best New Store (company-wide).

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