What it’s like to order from Azure Standard – Review of Azure Standard
Azure Standard is a small food distributor and family-owned farm. The company offers both standard grocery store dry goods, produce and meat as well as bulk food items, like whole grains. In complete candor, I was so impressed with the experience and the products that I became an affiliate. That means I’ll receive store credit if you use my link to visit Azure Standard and place an order or if you use my code, heatherfleming1, when you order. I wanted to put that out right at the beginning. I had drafted this post before I knew Azure even had affiliates. I’ve written this review of Azure Standard candidly and am not being compensated for doing so.
If you’re wondering what it’s like to order from Azure Standard, or if you’re doing research by reading reviews of Azure Standard, read on.
The rest of this post details the standard ordering process and product reviews and was written two years ago, and has been updated several times since. If you just want a general overview of ordering from Azure Standard, feel free to skip ahead. If you’re considering ordering right now, I’d suggest you read my updates.
UPDATE: MARCH 24, 2022
I’m currently in the process of placing an order and waiting for this month’s drop. The drop was originally scheduled for Wed, March 30. This experience has not gone well so far.
I still think Azure Standard is a wonderful company but I want to transparently let folks know what my experience has been with this month’s order.
Azure Standard Supply Chain Issues
Understandably, there are a lot of supply chain issues right now. There’s also a big spike in orders, especially for things like wheat. None of this is Azure Standard’s fault, of course. But here’s how that’s impacting the usual experience of placing an order.
On March 9, 21 days before my monthly drop, I placed an order. The order included whole grains, animal feed, spices, popcorn and other items. Azure is very upfront about the fact that although you can place your order any time during the month, they don’t actually reserve items for you until they are loading the truck. So I knew my order might not actually come off – that’s spelled out from the get go.
Having said that, multiple items in my cart went in and out of stock over the course of the 21 day period between my ‘order’ and the closing period. Then on the day my ordering window closed, more items were listed as being ‘out of stock, unlikely to ship’. That was two days ago.
This morning, I checked my order again. Note that they should be putting my order on the truck today. Two more things are also now ‘out of stock, unlikely to ship’. On the other hand, two things that were ‘out of stock, unlikely to ship’ last night are now listed as in-stock.
At this point, about one fourth of my ‘order’ is out of stock.
Prior to my order closing, I submitted an inquiry to their customer service department asking what my options were going forward – i.e., am I just going to get to keep ‘placing an order’ and hoping that on the day it’s finally time for my items to go on the truck, they’ll have my items in stock?
Azure Standard Customer Service Response
The answer was basically yes. I am welcome to keep ‘placing an order’ but unless the items are in the warehouse when they go to load the truck for my drop, there’s no indication of whether I’ll get those items. The other option is to use their drop shipping service for any in-stock item.
Note: This is NOT a new policy. This has been in place as long as I’ve ordered from Azure Standard.
UPDATE: March 25, 2022
My order closed on March 22. At that time, multiple items were listed as ‘out of stock, unlikely to ship’. Over the past two days, the order continues to be listed as ‘processing’. Items in the order continue to fluctuate in and out of stock, despite the order being closed.
I have not been charged yet but I did get an email saying my order was on the way and listing a different drop time.
A change in drop times is not unusual at all. But it is unusual for an order to close and supposedly be ‘on the way’ but no credit card charge to occur. And I have never had an order close, be listed as ‘processing’ and have the contents of the order continually change.
At this point, four days before my scheduled drop, I have no idea what I’m actually going to get.
Second update March 25
Almost as soon as I published my update above, I got an email confirming my order had shipped with the packing list and updated invoice. As of right now, everything on my order shipped, including all the things that kept going in and out of stock. Except, and this is ironic, two bags of chicken wheat, which were never listed as being out of stock.
Still, I’m excited I may get my bag of popcorn after all!
UPDATE: March 30, 2022
I picked my Azure order up last night at the drop. I’m very happy to report that every item that was supposed to ship was included. The truck arrived just a few minutes behind schedule, which is completely reasonable. Our drop has grown over the past year but everyone still got their items quickly and efficiently.
In the interest of transparency, I am leaving everything as is on this post. I’m going to place an order for April and I will update after the window closes to compare the experiences.
Update to my original Azure Standard Review
updated March 30
My ordering experience resolved very well, despite the frustrations of waiting to see what would actually be available for shipment. I would still encourage patience and caution if you place an order right now. I’ve edited the following paragraphs to reflect the outcome and my current take.
Unfortunately, given the erratic supply chain and increased orders, ordering from Azure Standard is a bit of a crapshoot right now. I can’t recommend placing an order at the moment unless you pay for drop shipping or are fine with potentially travelling to your drop site for a partial order.
One cannot cancel or change their order once the window closes. So if you learn that only a few of your items are actually going to ship, you don’t have the option to say ‘no thank you, this pick up will no longer be worth my time’.
And that is my issue. It’s not that I may not get everything I want. It’s that I may be locked into a pick up for a handful of items.
NOTE – you are not charged for anything that doesn’t ship.
I love Azure Standard and I am very sympathetic to their struggles with keeping items in stock in trying circumstances. I hope they are able to find a way to keep up with increased demand or smooth out the ordering process.
What is Azure Standard?
Azure Standard is something between a small-scale food distributor and a co-op. You can order just about any food or personal care item from Azure. They’re committed to working with small business and small farms and they only sell non-GMO products. While they have plenty of non-organic foods, they also have a robust selection of organic items. The prices for most items seem to be consistent with local big box stores, but of course that’s going to vary with the seasons and your location. The selection is top-notch. Their products, especially produce and drygoods, are available in a wide range of sizes, from standard grocery store size or bigger quantities.
What you can order from Azure Standard
In a nutshell, just about anything you would buy at the store, plus some things your local grocery probably doesn’t carry. My relationship with Azure Standard started with my backyard chickens. I wasn’t very keen on feeding them standard commercial chicken food, for a number of reasons.
In searching for safe and healthy chicken food formulas, I learned I would need to buy large quantities of things like wheat berries, rye and millet. I was concerned about the prices I was seeing, until I found Azure’s website. They simply had the best prices on larger quantities of high-quality whole grains of any online retailer. They also sold everything I wanted to order in large quantities, which would let me stock up for six months.
Since then, I’ve ordered all kinds of household staples, as well as other types of animal feed.
How Azure Standard ships orders
To feed my chickens for six months, I’d need around 200 pounds of grain. That’s….a lot of grain and potentially a LOT of money in shipping. When you order from Azure, you actually sign up to be part of a monthly, local drop shipment, rather than having your order delivered to your door. Because of that, the cost to have even a heavy pallet of grain sent to you is negligible, especially compared with door-to-door shipping. It cost me about $9 to have 190 pounds of grain trucked from Oregon to Kentucky. My subsequent orders have all been large and the costs have been comparable.
Do you need a membership to shop with Azure Standard?
No, although you need to create a free account, like any online retailer. Azure Standard doesn’t charge anything to join a drop site or place an order. You can order as much or as little as you’d like and you can order monthly or once a year or even less often. There IS a $50 minimum order amount per drop. If you’re not ordering $50 worth of items, you can just pay a $5 courtesy fee.
What’s it like to pick up food from an Azure Standard drop?
I’m the kind of person who gets low-key nervous when I have to do something new. I worry about logistics, knowing where to go and how things work. So I was a little bit anxious about my first drop. The drop information was available before I placed my order, so I knew where I was going and what to expect. I also had contact information for the local Azure volunteer, in case I had questions.
Generally, the drop is scheduled for a short window of time. The local Azure volunteer (called a Drop-Coordinator) and the truck driver unload and distribute everything. It’s a little like a Christmas party – you stand in line and wait for your name to be called so you can approach the tree…er truck, and get your present. Except that the present is a sack of wheat and you paid for it.
Getting your Azure Standard Order
The semi-truck is full of groceries for multiple drops. Each item is tagged with both the drop location and the name of the person who ordered it.
One drawback is that the items for each drop are grouped by type of item, not by the person who ordered it. While it makes perfect sense to load a truck by grouping like items, this means the actual process of handing out orders takes longer. For example, all of the bags of hard red wheat are grouped together, then all of the oats, etc. So everyone has to collect their bag of wheat, then their bag of oats, etc. This isn’t the end of the world but don’t expect to show up and be given your entire order in one fell swoop if you order bulk quantities.
A few more things to know about ordering from Azure Standard:
- Since your drop happens once a month, you have about 21 days to place items in your cart and order. The cutoff is usually 7 days from the next scheduled drop.
- There’s a chance that an item you put into your cart won’t actually be in stock when items are pulled and loaded. Once the truck is loaded, you get an email telling you exactly what items you’re getting. You are only charged for the items that are in stock and shipped. My entire order was listed as shipped but one box actually didn’t make it onto the truck, so I didn’t get two things I’d ordered. That was the only hitch and although disappointing, it wasn’t the end of the world. I called customer service and they immediately took the items off my order.
- You can add or remove things from your order any time during the 21 day window.
- Azure doesn’t charge your credit card until your items are actually shipped.
- Their customer service is outstanding. I had to call twice, once because my credit card was stolen and then because one of my boxes wasn’t on the truck. Both times, I got through almost immediately and the representative was friendly and helpful.
- The drop time is listed when you order. Unfortunately, the drop day and time can change, even last minute. So if you’ve planned your schedule around making it to your drop, there’s a small chance it will get rescheduled.
- As someone pointed out in the comments, the drop is a window of time. The truck might actually be earlier or later than that window, though, due to transit issues. So it’s possible you’ll end up having to wait around for a late truck.
How’s the food quality from Azure Standard?
After my first order, I opened the 25 pound bag of brown lentils almost immediately so I could make lentil soup. They were fresh and had a great color. When cooked, they were everything you want a lentil to be. So far, I haven’t had a single item from Azure that was disappointing, spoiled or otherwise inedible.
If you have food preferences or allergies, Azure has a site-wide account filter that lets you filter their products by ingredients or nutritional value, which is very helpful.
How are Azure Standards’ prices?
In terms price, all of my bulk grains and seeds were cheaper per pound than anywhere else I found online. The organic produce is consistent with prices at my local Kroger or Whole Foods but of course that’s going to vary by region and season. Although the price per unit might not be cheaper than your local big box grocery store, you might be able to save money simply by having to make fewer trips to the store, if you buy in bulk.
Azure also offers bulk boxes of fruit and vegetables, including cool things like this 25 pound box of assorted organic rainbow carrots and this 40 pound box of randomly chosen produce. If you can or preserve food, the produce boxes are a great deal and full of seasonal fruit or vegetables.
What you should know about storing bulk food:
Most of the bulk foods Azure Standard sells need to be repacked for longer term storage. Azure actually sells five gallon buckets and lids and their price is very competitive. Plan to repackage grains, cereals, legumes, rice or other dry goods as soon as you get home with your order.
Azure Standard sells most grains, cereals, legumes and other dry goods in 25 or 50 pound sacks. A standard five gallon bucket holds 25 pounds of small items, like wheat berries or lentils. Plan on two buckets for larger foods, like oats or bigger legumes.
You can read more about how much food a five gallon bucket will hold here.
Azure also sells dried and dehydrated foods, like fruit. These will also need to be repackaged for longer term storage but they’re much more compact so jars or plastic canisters may be sufficient.
Azure Standard animal feed
All of the animal feed Azure Standard sells needs to be repackaged for storage, especially if you’ll be storing the feed in a barn or shed. Most of their 25 pound feeds will fit in a five gallon bucket. Larger items, like alfalfa pellets, take two buckets for 25 pounds.
Their animal feeds are very high quality, and include organic options, as well as ‘animal grade’ bags of wheat or corn.
Storing pre-packed food
They sell multi-packs of packaged or processed food (think pasta, boxed mac and cheese, etc), much like Sam’s Club or Costco. Those items are generally all right to store as packed for a a few months. To store longer, keep the boxes or bags in sealed buckets, bags or other food storage containers. If you’ve ever had pest issues in your pantry, go ahead and store boxed or bagged foods in sealed bags or other enclosed containers.
More information on how to store food long term and long term food storage supplies
Basically, if you intend to keep the food around longer than a few months, plan to transfer it to a food grade, sealed container. For longer term storage, you may need to use mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.
Check out How Much Space Do You Need to Store Food? to make sure you’re using your available food storage space effectively. What Do You Need to Store Food Long Term? will help you figure out what food storage supplies you’ll need. If you’re just starting to work on your food storage, take a look at How to Plan your Food Stockpile.
Is ordering from Azure Standard worth it?
To some extent, the answer will depend on your priorities.
If you want to minimize trips to the grocery store or set up a robust long term food stockpile, yes. Ordering from Azure Standard is a great way to shop for bulk food, especially for things like grains, legumes and pantry staples. They have a huge selection and most things are very cost effective. The website shows each available size option and includes a cost per pound or ounce, which can help you leverage the savings effectively.
For those who only buy a week’s worth of groceries at a time, or don’t do a lot of meal planning, Azure probably doesn’t make sense.
There’s also no reason to shop for bulk food if you don’t want to set up food storage or you don’t anticipate actually eating, say, 25 pounds of lentils.
How to decide if you should order from Azure Standard
If you like to shop for bulk food, but live far away from chains like Costco, Azure Standard may have a drop that’s convenient for you. On the other hand, Azure might NOT have a drop in your area or one that’s convenient.
Assuming there’s a drop location in your area, there’s very little risk to trying out Azure Standard. There’s no membership or commitment and it’s very easy to hit the $50 minimum.
I would actually say if you’re not ordering at least $50 worth of food, then it’s not worth using Azure.
For those who are curious about ordering food in bulk or participating in a delivery coop, go ahead and give it a try. As mentioned, using my code (HeatherFleming1) or using my sign up link will give me a referral credit from Azure. But even if you don’t use my credit, I’d encourage you to try Azure out at least once and see what you think.
I’d love to hear about your experience with Azure Standard – drop me an email or leave a comment below. And if you’ve got questions about ordering from Azure Standard, let me know, I’m happy to help.
If you found this post helpful, I’m so glad. I am eager to find shopping alternatives to mega-corporations and Azure Standard seems to be an excellent option. I’ll be happy to answer questions about my experiences with Azure, post a comment or email me. A reminder that my Azure code is heatherfleming1, if you decide to sign up for an account or place an order. You can also connect with Azure by clicking here.
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