Wholesome Market: good health for all
Health foods such as supplements, wholesome snacks and organic pantry items often come with a hefty price tag. This means many people can’t afford to buy them on a regular basis. Wholesome Market has set out to change this. The Perth-based start-up offers healthy products at wholesale prices. This enables more Australians to save money on groceries while also gaining access to more nutritious products.
Founded by Jerry Li and Alene Sullivan in 2020, Wholesome Market is an online platform that acts as a virtual grocery store. Customers sign up for an annual $60 membership and shop for discounted healthy groceries including snacks, supplements and sustainable cleaning products. The business delivers Australia-wide, with 100 percent of emissions from delivery offset. All packaging, including tape, ink and boxes, is recyclable or reusable.
“Jerry came up with the idea about five years ago, and it really started out as a side hustle,” Sullivan says. “He was working for an organic and natural health distributor, and he saw how expensive organic and natural, better-for-you products were. So we started working on a concept of how we could make these products more mainstream, more accessible and more affordable for everybody. Not just the people who can afford it.
“That’s where the membership came in. As a business model, we don’t make money on the products. We pass all the savings on to the consumer. The way we’re able to run the business and be a purpose-driven business is through the annual $60 membership fee.”
Paying it forward
Charging a membership fee and removing the middleman means there’s no need for traditional retail mark-ups. Wholesome Market offers discounts of 15-50 percent on the purchase price of every product in stock. This saves an average of $35 per shop. The business also donates the equivalent of five meals to Aussies in need through OzHarvest for every membership it receives. Plus, it offers free memberships to those doing it tough.
“There are some people who can’t afford $60 a year; we take for granted that’s just not at everybody’s accessibility level,” Sullivan says. “Due to the global pandemic, economic constraints have increased for Australians. Lockdowns and job losses have had a profound impact. Yet at the same time, staying healthy has never been more important.”
Anyone is able to apply for a free membership. The ultimate aim is to offer a free membership for every paid membership. As the business grows, and more people sign up, the more free memberships Wholesome Market will be able to give away.
“We have a number of criteria,” Sullivan says. “Such as if you’re on a low income, or you’re a volunteer. Since COVID, we’ve also included essential workers like nurses.”
Better health for all
Wholesome Market aims to stock local products wherever possible to support local businesses. There are more than 3000 products and 200 brands available. Categories include healthy snacks, pantry items, vitamins and supplements, bath and body, babies and kids, non-toxic cleaning as well as gluten-free, keto, paleo, non-GMO and vegan.
“We’ve poured our heart and soul into curating the brands we work with and the products we offer,” Sullivan says. “We also work with naturopaths and nutritionists to ensure the products we sell uphold the same health and sustainability standards that we have.”
By breaking down financial and geographical barriers and making shopping for better-for-you brands more mainstream, Wholesome Market hopes that this will have a ripple effect and contribute to better health and wellbeing for more Australians.