Sprouts Vs. Natural Grocers: Comparing Healthy Grocery Stores

Sprouts and Natural Grocers are two popular grocery store chains known for their focus on natural and organic foods. Both stores offer a wide selection of fresh produce, bulk foods, vitamins and supplements, meat and seafood, baked goods, and grocery items.

However, there are some key differences between Sprouts and Natural Grocers in terms of their product selection, prices, and overall shopping experience. This article provides a detailed comparison of Sprouts and Natural Grocers, looking at their pros and cons, to help you decide which store may be a better fit for your grocery shopping needs.

A Brief Comparison Table

CategorySproutsNatural Grocers
Organic Produce SelectionGoodExcellent
Organic Grocery SelectionModerateExtensive
Dietary Specific ProductsLimitedWide variety gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.
Bulk Foods SelectionHugeModerate
Supplements SelectionDecentExcellent, extensive
Meat & Seafood QualityHighHigh
Prepared FoodsLarge grab-and-go selectionSmaller hot bar & salad bar
PricingVery affordable, low pricesCompetitive but not rock-bottom
Store AmbianceCasual, farmer’s marketTraditional health store
Customer ServiceFriendly but less expertiseVery knowledgeable on health/nutrition
Online OrderingYesNo
ResourcesMinimalClasses, nutritionist, coaching
Conventional GroceriesYesLimited
Overall FocusNatural/organic on a budgetStrictly health and nutrition

Overview Of Sprouts And Natural Grocers

Sprouts Farmers Market
Sprouts Farmers Market

Sprouts Farmers Market was founded in 2002 in Phoenix, Arizona. It has since expanded to over 360 stores across 23 states. Sprouts is known for its affordable prices on natural and organic products, with a focus on fresh and prepared foods. The stores have a farmer’s market feel, with produce displays at the center of the store. In addition to conventional groceries, Sprouts offers a large selection of gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options.

Natural Grocers was founded in 1955 in Colorado by Margaret and Philip Isely. It has 162 stores located across 20 states. Natural Grocers emphasizes health and nutrition, providing many organic, non-GMO, and supplement products. They source from local farms and vendors whenever possible. The stores offer free nutrition education and recipes to support healthy lifestyles.

Product Selection And Quality

Both Sprouts and Natural Grocers offer a wide range of natural, organic, and conventional grocery products. However, Natural Grocers has a larger selection of organic produce, meats, and packaged items. They rigorously vet suppliers and products to meet their quality standards. Sprouts has a great produce section but doesn’t specialize in organic or all-natural products to the same extent.

Sprouts has an extensive bulk foods section where you can purchase trail mixes, grains, coffee, snacks, etc. in any quantity desired. Their spice selection is also impressive. Natural Grocers has a smaller bulk section by comparison.

For packaged grocery items like pasta, condiments, baking ingredients, etc., Sprouts carries both conventional and organic/natural brands. Natural Grocers focuses almost exclusively on natural and organic packaged groceries. They have the largest selection of dietary-specific products such as gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan items.

In the supplements department, Natural Grocers wins out with the most extensive inventory of vitamins, minerals, herbs, homeopathics and natural body care. Sprouts has a decent vitamin selection but much smaller than Natural Grocers.

The prepared foods and deli options cater more to convenience at Sprouts with a large grab-and-go selection. Natural Grocers has a salad bar and hot bar with healthier prepared options but not as much variety. For fresh meat and seafood, both stores offer high-quality selections.

Pricing And Affordability

Sprouts is widely known for its low prices, especially on produce. While not always the case across the board, Sprouts does aim to offer the lowest prices in town for fresh, natural and organic foods. Their produce prices frequently beat out big chains like Safeway and Kroger. Bulk foods and many grocery items are very competitively priced as well.

Natural Grocers
Natural Grocers

Natural Grocers has great everyday prices but doesn’t promote an overtly low-price image like Sprouts does. Their private label items are affordable yet meet their quality standards. Natural Grocers runs weekly coupon specials that offer significant savings on select products.

For organic produce and packaged groceries, Natural Grocers is often cheaper than mainstream grocers but still costs more than conventional items. Sprouts has low prices on some organic selections but other options may cost more than Natural Grocers. Produce pricing varies at both stores based on seasonal availability.

When it comes to supplements and body care, Natural Grocers has the best everyday pricing in a health food store setting. Their vitamins start at just $5.99 per bottle. Sprouts is not always able to compete on price in these departments.

Overall Sprouts tends to edge out Natural Grocers when it comes to affordability, but both stores provide healthy options at reasonable prices.

Store Ambiance And Layout

Sprouts stores have an open, farmers market-style layout. Produce is showcased at the center of the store with a welcoming,natural aesthetic. Employees arecasual in jeans and t-shirts. This contrasts Natural Grocers more traditional health food store vibe, with narrower aisles and a smaller footprint.

Natural Grocers has a brighter, clinical look with employees donning chefs coats and aprons. Some shoppers may find this old school health store vibe less inviting. However, cleanliness and organization are hallmarks of Natural Grocers stores.

Sprouts stores are larger in size which allows for more spaciousness. Navigation is fairly intuitive at both chains. Sprouts highlights certain products with special signage, while Natural Grocers has clear category labeling and signs. Checkout is speedy at Sprouts but can take longer at crowded Natural Grocers stores.

Ultimately Sprouts aims for a relaxed, hassle-free shopping environment. Natural Grocers feels more serious about health and nutrition but may come off as austere to some. It depends on your tastes and preferences when choosing a store ambiance.

Customer Service And Shopping Experience

The customer service at Sprouts is friendly, helpful and laidback. Employees have good product knowledge but aren’t always available when you need them. At Natural Grocers, the employees are extremely knowledgeable, especially about dietary needs, ingredients, and supplements. They take time to answer your questions thoroughly.

Natural Grocers offers many more resources for healthy living including classes, One-on-One nutrition coaching, and an on-site nutritionist. Sprouts does not provide the same level of education and support.

For convenience, Sprouts has online ordering with curbside pickup or delivery. Natural Grocers does not offer these e-commerce options currently. Sprouts is expanding its prepared foods and grab-and-go options while Natural Grocers focuses more on basic healthy meal ingredients.

As a conventional grocery store, Sprouts provides all the basics you expect like paper goods, cleaning supplies, pet foods, etc. Natural Grocers sticks to just food and supplement products with no extraneous items.

Overall, Sprouts caters to the everyday grocery shopper who wants quality, convenience and some health-oriented options mixed in. Natural Grocers serves a niche audience focused strictly on health, wellness and dietary needs like gluten-free, paleo, vegan, etc.

Also watch the video of Sprouts!

Pros And Cons Of Sprouts And Natural Grocers

Sprouts Pros:

  • Very affordable, especially for fresh produce
  • Huge bulk foods selection
  • Wide variety of grocery items beyond just natural and organic
  • Laidback, farmer’s market style store environment
  • Convenience options like online ordering, delivery, grab-and-go

Sprouts Cons:

  • Organic produce and meats can be limited
  • Supplements and body care pricing not very competitive
  • Employees have minimal training in nutrition and dietary needs

Natural Grocers Pros:

  • Extensive inventory of organic produce, meats and packaged groceries
  • Largest selection of dietary specific products (gluten-free, dairy-free, etc)
  • Exceptional prices and selection for vitamins, supplements and natural body care
  • Employees have excellent training in health, nutrition and dietary needs
  • Offer many free resources like classes, nutrition coaching and on-site nutritionist

Natural Grocers Cons:

  • Overall pricing not as low as Sprouts
  • Ambiance may feel outdated to some shoppers
  • Minimal prepared foods and grab-and-go options
  • No online ordering for delivery or in-store pickup
  • Product selection limited primarily to food and supplements

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is Natural Grocers more expensive than Sprouts?

Overall, Natural Grocers does tend to be pricier than Sprouts. However, they do offer competitive pricing compared to other health food stores.
Their private label products and coupon specials help balance out higher prices on certain items like organic produce or packaged groceries. But in general, Sprouts beats Natural Grocers on affordability for the average grocery basket.

What makes Sprouts different?

Sprouts stands out for its farmer’s market style ambiance focused on fresh produce, bulk foods and a large grocery selection beyond just health food.
Their laidback vibe and extremely competitive pricing also differentiate them. Sprouts manages to make natural and organic foods affordable for the everyday grocery shopper.

Is Sprouts or Whole Foods cheaper?

In a head to head price comparison, Sprouts does tend to be cheaper than Whole Foods, sometimes significantly so. Sprouts prices on organic produce and packaged goods are frequently lower than Whole Foods. And Sprouts has very low prices in the bulk section.
However, Whole Foods runs more sales on their specialty departments like meat and seafood. But for overall grocery value, Sprouts generally wins on cost over the premium Whole Foods pricing.

Is Sprouts healthy to shop at?

With a large focus on fresh, natural and organic produce, bulk foods and quality meats and seafood, Sprouts offers many healthy shopping options. They make the farmer’s market approach accessible and affordable for more shoppers.
While they have conventional groceries too, you can definitely shop strictly for nutritious ingredients at Sprouts. Their vitamin selection is just decent, so supplement shoppers may do better at Natural Grocers or Whole Foods.

Also Read: Is Rush49 Better Than Groupon?

The Verdict

For the average shopper focused on healthy foods at affordable prices, Sprouts is likely the better option over Natural Grocers. The fresh produce can’t be beat and Sprouts makes natural living economical.

Natural Grocers is a wonderful choice for those with specialized dietary needs like gluten-free, paleo, vegan, etc. as they offer the widest range of products and have very knowledgeable staff.

Ultimately it comes down to your priorities – amazing prices or strict product standards; everyday groceries or niche dietary offerings; casual or serious ambiance. Both Sprouts and Natural Grocers fill a health-conscious grocery need, just in different ways. Try out each store to see which provides the best fit for your shopping preferences.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.