It’s always a surprise when I talk about Azure Standard and the person I’m talking to asks, “What is Azure Standard?”. I’ve been shopping at Azure Standard for nearly five years now. I first heard of the company after I quit my nursing job and immersed myself into researching how to save money. Azure Standard was listed in a book I read as one the places to shop to save money for frugal living.
The company is gaining popularity, but it is still a little-known gem to most. I am dedicating a whole review to Azure Standard because I am so impressed with their values, quality of products, and customer service.
What is Azure Standard?
Azure Standard is not a grocery store, it is a food distributor. They offer so many natural and organic foods and various other products at such an affordable price. They offer products in various sizes for a wide selection and give shoppers the opportunity to save even more when buying larger sizes. Azure Standard has customers pick up their order at a drop site. Sometimes there is no drop site in someone’s area, so in that case, the order is shipped via UPS. Azure Standard is a great service for buying healthy food conveniently.
Here’s a quote straight from Azure Standard’s About Us page.
What started out as an organic farm over 40 years ago, has since grown into the largest independent natural and organic food distributor in the country. As a result of extraordinary growth and steadfast commitment, Azure now delivers more than 14,000 non-GMO and organic products direct to families, manufacturers and retailers across the nation, including Hawaii and Alaska. Customers love the many options for bulk and family-friendly sizes.
Why does Aroma Mama approve of Azure Standard?
David Stelzer, the Founder, and CEO of Azure Standard, personally decides on each product that is sold at Azure Standard. He puts each product that he is evaluating through a rigorous review of the product and the product’s company to ensure they line up with Azure Standard’s commitment to value.
Azure Standard is committed to carrying the highest quality food. This is a list of ingredients they refuse to carry as quoted from their website at www.azurestandard.com.
Azure’s Unacceptable Ingredient List for Food Items
- Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
- Refined Sugars
- Artificial Colors
- Artificial Flavors
- Artificial Preservatives
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Bleached Flour
- Certified Colors
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
- Artificial Nitrates/Nitrites in Meat Products
- Pork Products
- Shellfish Products (except when used as an ingredient in nutritional supplements)
A Word about “Natural” Flavorings:
Azure is currently reviewing all products that include “natural flavorings” for items that are unacceptable. All new vendors are required to sign a certification letter clearly stating that their natural ingredients do not contain any of the following items:
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
- Hydrolyzed Protein
- Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
- Plant Protein Extract
- Sodium Caseinate
- Calcium Caseinate
- Yeast Extract
- Textured Protein
- Autolyzed Yeast
- Hydrolyzed Oat Flour
- Malt extract
- Malt Flavoring
- Stock Flavoring
- Carrageenan Enzymes
- Soy Protein Concentrate
- Soy Protein Isolate
We continually review our product lineup for ingredient compliance, and we work hard to discontinue any items that do not match our standards. If we discover a product that includes unacceptable ingredients, we will investigate and take action, including the discontinuation of that product. We welcome your comments, suggestions and concerns.
Is Azure Standard available Coast to Coast?
Azure Standard is based out of Dufur, Oregon. They can afford to have cheaper prices by delivering customer’s orders via drop sites. As of the time of this writing, there are drop sites spanning from the West Coast to the East just north of Pennsylvania. Cities that do not have drop sites set up yet can get their order shipped via a parcel carrier. Azure Standard is actively working on drop sites on the Northeastern Coast. If you are on the East Coast, I would recommend calling Azure Standard to see if they are accepting or have existing drop sites in your area.
Click the purple link to a short video on how Azure Standard operates: How It Works
What is a “drop”?
Quoted straight from Azure Standard’s website:
A “drop” is a spot or point along the truck delivery route where the truck makes a delivery. Each drop has a coordinator who manages the delivery. A drop may service one customer or hundreds. We welcome new drops on existing routes anytime.
Sounds like a great company! Since it’s an honest review, are there any downsides?
Products that are out of stock
Sometimes Azure Standard sells out of a product I want to buy which can be frustrating when I’m anxiously awaiting on a needed ingredient for a recipe. I have gotten so spoiled to Azure Standard prices that I refuse to pay higher prices at a grocery store and just have to wait until the product comes back in stock.
There is a minimum order of $50, otherwise, there is a $5 handling fee for a standard order to a drop site. Azure Standard has the option for a drop site to be on an every 4 week, bi-weekly, or weekly cycle for delivery. Drop sites need a combined minimum of $550 worth of products. If the minimum amount for the drop site isn’t reached, then your order won’t go through until the minimum order for the drop site is met at the next cycle.
Some drop sites find it hard to reach the $550 minimum order every cycle if the group is small. Some months, I can easily reach $550 on my own. Other times, I prefer to make smaller orders by joining a drop site at a local church that has around 100 people. This way there is never a worry about needing to spend for than the $50 minimum to place an order.
Picking up the order at a drop site
Depending on your schedule and the drop site you choose, picking up your order at a drop site can be difficult if you are not available to pick up your order when the truck arrives. In my time ordering from Azure, I have had a few drop sites that I have chosen to pick my order up from.
My parents are coordinators for a drop site at their house. When the truck arrives at my parent’s drop site, I can pick up my order whenever I want. I have also chosen a drop site when I didn’t know the coordinator. She was really nice about holding my order for me if I couldn’t arrive on time. She even had room in her fridge or freezer to store my perishables until I could pick up my order. Most recently, I have been picking up my order at a local church drop site. I have to be there when the truck arrives, otherwise, my order sits outside until I come get it. It’s okay to have someone else pick up your order for you if you’re unable to make the drop time.
As an experienced Azure Standard customer, do you have any tips for a newbie?
Keep a running cart
When I realize I am close to being out of a staple ingredient or decide I want to buy something from Azure, I add the product to my cart right away. The products stay in the cart and I can even checkout. I have until my monthly cutoff date to change my order as much as I want and do nothing more. The credit or debit card gets charged when the order gets filled right before delivery.
My cutoff date is always a Sunday and my drop off date is always the Tuesday after the cutoff. There may be more time between cutoff and drop off for states that are a further distance from Dufur, Oregon.
Think about how much you will eat before the food’s expiration date
Don’t buy in bulk unless you know you will eat all of it in a timely manner. Also, make sure that you like the product before thinking of buying in bulk. Once I bought 50 pounds of nutritional yeast and 4 years later, I still have a lot of it. I choose to buy in bulk when I can, but there are so many size options for consumers to choose from. They carry regular grocery store sizes too. I have learned that there are just some things that I don’t need to buy in bulk. Sometimes, I will buy in bulk and split it up between family and friends to share the cost.
My shopping cart
People usually ask me what I like to get at Azure Standard when they are putting their first order together. First of all, I like to buy from Azure Standard for quality, great prices, and to support their mission. There are many products that are drastically cheaper than I can find anywhere else; like cassava flour, shredded coconut, coconut sugar and organic popcorn, to name a few. Their fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t always the cheapest, but I know I am getting quality and am always impressed when I can get an extra-large head of kale and jumbo size lemons. The avocado oil I buy can be purchased at Costco for around the same price, but I choose to buy 6 bottles at a time from Azure Standard knowing that the supply will last my family one month.
This is a list of organic and non-GMO food staples that I buy regularly from Azure Standard to support my family’s gluten-free and Paleo lifestyle: cassava flour, brown and white rice flour, wild rice, tapioca starch, potato starch, arrowroot starch, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, sunflower butter, shredded coconut, coconut sugar, maple syrup, liquid stevia, oats, tomato sauce, various spices, Real Salt, apple cider vinegar, fruit spread, popcorn, dates, raisins, avocado oil, canned coconut milk, and in season fruits and vegetables.
If you like to buy healthier packaged products out of convenience, Azure Standard carries a huge selection. They even sell coconut ice cream and coconut novelty bars!
Azure does accept returns, but you must contact the company within 3 business days to avoid a restocking fee. Make sure to contact Customer Service right away and get a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number for each item to be returned.
Recently, I had a return after the 3-day cutoff because my doctor had me stop eating eggs and I had bought 6 bags of egg protein powder in a previous order. After Azure Standard issued me a RMA number, I put the protein powders in a box with the RMA number written clearly on top. I gave the box to the driver at my next order pickup and was issued a refund right away after a 10% restocking fee. I was very happy with the process and the top-notch customer service I received.
Does Azure Standard have a discount program?
Azure Standard prices are already below the average grocery store prices which provide a pretty sweet deal to their customers. This past year, the company decided they wanted to offer even lower prices. Unfortunately, the prices were capped by the company rules of how low a discount can be listed to the public. Azure Standard was motivated and knew they had to find another way. That is how Azure Advantage Membership Program was born. It was the only way to offer prices lower than marketed discount prices to their customers. We don’t see the extra discounts while shopping, but at checkout, the total saved from being a member will show up.
I quickly saw the value and signed up as soon as I heard about the program. Recently, I had an order with an additional savings of $60 off of my $500 order because of my membership. I order a lot from Azure Standard so this program has been great for my grocery budget. Every 2 months, I get a Discovery Box free with my order valued at $30 with a different theme in each box. One month I received a box full of various spices. Last month, I received an organic vendor sampler which has been really fun. The 6 Discovery Boxes a year alone pays for the membership.
The membership costs $180 a year which will more than pay for itself as I have already experienced. The membership program is optional. There is no additional fee to shop from Azure Standard for their everyday prices which are still a discount to everyone.
Okay, I’m sold, how do I make an order?
The easiest way to inquire about the Azure Advantage Membership Program is to call Azure Standard Customer Service. Azure Standard can be reached at 971-200-8350 to set you up quickly. Don’t forget to provide Promo Code, 3211338, which gives me credit for the referral. 🙂
If you want to make an order without the membership, then you can start shopping right away by clicking here.
However, if you already shop at Azure Standard and want to learn more about the membership program for the deepest savings possible, then click here.
In conclusion, you’ve been missing out if you haven’t heard of Azure Standard yet. It’s a great company all around. They are committed to excellence and actively working on growing the number of products and drop sites. Over the years, I have come to realize that Azure Standard is much more than a food distributor. Azure Standard and its members are a community growing a movement for healthy and abundant living.
I hope you found my honest review of Azure Standard helpful. Have you heard of Azure Standard and love it like I do?