If you are interested in grocery delivery, you've probably heard about Imperfect Foods. The company used to go by the name Imperfect Produce, but has now expanded to include beverages, meat, fish, baked goods, and more. The only caveat is that the foods are "imperfect," many they may look kind of funny.
The ugly produce movement is a recent attempt by environmentally conscious people at reducing food waste. The idea is that many grocery stores have aesthetic standards and only want to stock nice-looking produce. By working with farmers and come companies directly, Imperfect Foods stops the weirdly-shaped fruits and vegetables from going to waste.
Taste and nutrition-wise, there is nothing wrong with the food you get in each box. However, it's possible that you might find misshapen carrots, a discolored orange, or items that were packaged in a brand's old packaging. For some people, it can save you money and time by helping you avoid the grocery store or farmer’s market.
How Imperfect Produce Works
So, what are the sign-up options, and what's the delivery process like? The process to subscribe is simple:
If you don't know what size to go for, base it on how many people in your household you need to feed. A small box serves two to four people, medium is four to six, large is six to eight, and extra-large and eight to ten.
Unlike other grocery subscriptions that force you to eat whatever they send, Imperfect Foods lets you pick your box contents. They offer customization options that allow you to, essentially, go grocery shopping online. As you build a box, you can sort and filter your options by different categories.
For example, you can search for ingredients for a specific meal or for items that are exclusive to Imperfect Produce. When you click on something, you can see what the "imperfection" is and why the item made the list. For instance, you may see scarred peaches that would have been thrown away by a grocery store.
To get more than produce, all you have to do is browse add-ons such as dairy, snacks, coffee, and grains. You can even select items that you want to keep in your box every week or put items in your "Never" list that you don't want to get at all.
Be sure to customize your box within the window or you'll miss your chance to review the meals before they ship. You can skip or cancel a delivery at any time.
Lastly, if you don't want to customize your produce boxes, you can say so. Then, the company will send you seasonal foods based on what they have available.
What You Can Expect from Your Order
If you buy the same thing every time you get groceries, you may need an adjustment period. Imperfect Foods only offers a seasonal selection, so if your favorite fruit is not in season, you will need to get something else.
Based on your desired subscription service frequency, you will get a "shopping window" where you can review the variety of fruits and veggies and add or subtract things from your cart.
After you set up your account, you will get a delivery day for your food. The tracking number in your email will help you keep tabs on your order, and someone will drop it off to your door during the delivery window.
If you aren't home, your groceries will remain fresh due to the secure packaging. Everything comes in a recyclable cardboard box. For orders that contain cold items, the box with come with and ice pack/gel packs and insulation. Fragile fruits and vegetables will be together in small bags. From there, everything is pretty straightforward.
The food that's available depends on your location. While you cannot browse the options online before you make an account, the shipments feature normal items that you may see at farmers markets, Sprouts grocery, or any other grocery chain. A review of your first order may include:
You may even find useful pantry items such as olive oil, seasonings, nuts, condiments, peanut butter, and more. All of these options change from week to week, so there's always something new and exciting.
Your fresh produce will have minor imperfections but there will never be anything wrong with the taste. For meat and refrigerated products, these may get the label "imperfect" because they are not the right size or shape for commercial use. Or, they may be surplus from one farmer or vendor.
Like the produce, all of the other products from the company are sustainably sourced. The dairy does not contain hormones, the eggs are cage-free, and the meat is vegetarian-fed and free of antibiotics. There is something for everyone, whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or an omnivore.
Imperfect Produce delivers to much of the West Coast, Northeast, and Midwest regions. To find out if there is delivery in your area, you can enter your zip code on the company website or view the online map. In some locations, there is a designated delivery person who will bring your order. In others, there may be a third-party delivery service.
The company delivers before 9 PM Monday through Saturday. You'll receive a text message or a notice to your email address when your food is on its way. You can't choose your window, the company bases it on the delivery areas. However, you do not have to be at your house to get your stuff.
You can opt for delivery to your school or work place as long as the delivery people are able to reach you with no problem. If there is an issue, a customer service rep may reach out to you about your produce delivery.
In order to pay their drivers and employees for delivery services, each order does include a delivery fee. You'll see the cost reflected in the total amount of your order, and the company assures efforts to keep this price low.
Depending on your family, your location, and your eating habits, using Imperfect Produce can be less expensive than going to the store, even with the delivery fee. Just like at the store, every item has individual pricing, and you can see your order total as you go.
The fruits and vegetables are always high-quality and sustainably-sourced. If you have any problems with your box, you can contact customer service to handle it, which is more than you can say for a typical market.
The company also has a reduced cost box program for people who generally qualify for food stamps/ EBT/ SNAP.
The service is a great way for medium to large-sized families to save money on produce. It also saves you the time and energy of making a list, going to the supermarket, and lugging heavy bags from your car to your house or apartment. Although the prices fluctuate, you typically spend about $1 per pound of produce in your box.
The company also has handy articles for shopping on a budget. However, the cost of your order will increase if you load up on add-ons and substitutions such as meat, drinks, and eggs. For the best value, try to stick with the regular produce box and opt for biweekly shipment.
According to the Imperfect Produce site, your final costs depend on the sizes of your box, the delivery schedule, and the type of box you purchase. The least expensive option is a regular box of produce, which averages between $11 and $27. Organic packages are more expensive, averaging $15 to $43.
If you get items that require refrigeration or add a snack or something else to your box, that will make the price increase. Most buyers who have done a review say that they saved money or broke even using Imperfect.
The site sometimes offers consumers a special discount on their first box, so it's worth a shot to compare your experience.
Yes. The company changed its name as they began to offer more than ugly produce. Imperfect Foods is the current name, but you may see people use them interchangeably.
Pros and Cons
- Grocery shopping without the hassle
- Browse a lot of interesting and different foods
- Company partners with growers and family farms in the country
- Seasonal and fresh offerings
- Not available in all states
Food for Thought
Research estimates that there is an annual food waste of about 20 billion pounds per year in the US. Some of this waste is due to food with discoloration or other blemishes getting left in fields to rot or to sit in a landfill. Imperfect Produce's mission and business model is to reduce this amount and positively impact the environment.
Though the company now offers more than fruits and veggies, it is known for its quality, seasonal content. As the customer, you can alter your plan to your convenience. The site makes it simple to change the size of your box, it's content, and the shipping schedule.
In advance of every shipment, you can take advantage of the customization window to change your order around. If not, you'll get a box of seasonal picks from the company, which can be a fun surprise. If you don't know what to do with an item, their site has cool recipes that can help you out.
Imperfect Produce boxes are most compatible with people looking for a grocery delivery plan that may also help reduce food waste.