New York-based FreshDirect is the oldest player in the game, having debuted 19 years ago in the Northeast. While it has been mostly regional in its formative years, it now covers other major American cities. Perusing the website in a day takes you through an array of 98 dairy-free products, 536 vegan products, 595 kosher items, 463 “organic and all-natural” offerings, and 1285 gluten-free foods. And while the “FreshDirect” name connotes fresh produce, the store’s comprehensive inventory includes wine, spirits, household and beauty products, baby needs, and pet supplies.
FreshDirect offers dozens of excellent meal kits for beginning cooks with thoughtful wine pairings and easy-to-understand nutritional information. Best of all, there is an extensive array of gourmet delicacies from sliced-to-order salmon to bialys. You’ll find party platters, food “bundles,” and holiday spreads for everything from Fourth of July to Rosh Hashanah.
FreshDirect is proud to have “pioneered the short supply chain” so its customers can experience the freshest deliveries possible. Food comes to the fulfillment center straight from the source and is delivered at peak freshness within days. Fresh Direct aficionados praise the prepared meals, frequent deals on popular items, and its high-quality, mostly organic, produce.
In fact, the company’s produce, seafood, and meat has even been considered better than Whole Foods. This may make FreshDirect more cost-effective than Instacart and Amazon for Whole Foods fans in the Northeastern U.S. A small health and beauty department which enables New Yorkers to order aspirin or ibuprofen – not available in New York supermarkets – along with their foodstuffs.
The company boasts an extensive array of prepared vegetarian meals, although vegans may not feel certain that those options are free of egg or dairy products. While there is a wide variety of vegan prepared and frozen foods, finding vegan meals on the site takes more maneuvering than most new customers would want to tinker around with. Nevertheless, it can be done by searching under a “Shop By” heading and subheading: Entertaining, Family Size, Kid Friendly, Sale, or Under 500 Calories and secondarily by “Show Me Only” categories: Low Sodium, Under 500 Calories, and Vegan.
There are only six “nut-free” products in the current inventory. All FreshDirect products are labeled in accordance with the Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), which requires that food product labels containing the eight major allergens be declared clearly and in plain English. That said, reading the fine print on product close-ups takes considerable effort on FreshDirect’s website compared with Instacart, which is more user-friendly in this regard.
Kosher consumers will likely find that FreshDirect is the service to beat. As consumers who keep kosher also experience time crunches on Friday afternoon before the Jewish Sabbath or holidays, this is an easy way to take care of their festive meal needs in a hurry. Likewise, it is easy to see how seniors from all walks of life can make FreshDirect their premium one-stop-shop for entertaining family and friends without leaving their homes or carrying a thing.
The minimum order for home deliveries is $30 for most areas. The only odd exception is the Hamptons on Long Island, which has a minimum of $99. A subscription is required for any Fresh Direct order, with $79 for a 6-month Delivery Pass and $129 for an annual commitment. The delivery fee depends on the area and ranges from $5.99 to $15.99. Like Instacart, it is easy to access coupons and sales. Customer Support tends to investigate issues and award credits off order problems and has friendly, well-trained staff who try hard to keep consumers happy.
The company’s website interface is arguably the cleanest of its competitors, and it is easy to order specific fruits and vegetables. With FreshDirect, there may be a reason you can’t eat like a king every day – but your dietary restriction isn’t one of them.