Is Imperfect Produce Worth it?

I’ve been using Imperfect Produce which is a vegetable and fruit delivery service for the past few months. Imperfect Produce aims to reduce food waste by delivering ugly and surplus fruits and vegetables to your door.  I liked the mission statement, but after a few months I felt like most of the food I was getting was labeled ‘surplus’ and prices seemed to be less competitive.   Delivery to delivery, I would often buy basics like carrots and onions that were always labeled ‘surplus,’ but if they’re available all the time are they really surplus?

One of the Imperfect Produce boxes

One of the boxes most things look pretty normal.

Another box with more fruit

The fruits were kind of small

So I broke out my kitchen scale, and I tracked 4 deliveries (2 months worth!).  I compared the amount that Imperfect Produce sent me and priced out the equivalent from my local grocer.  Everything was compared against a direct replacement as best I could match.  To keep it fair, I also included the Box Fee ($3) and Delivery Fee ($5) that Imperfect Produce charges.

Here are the cost comparisons by delivery:

Imperfect Produce Grocery Store Savings over Store
Box 1  $31.85  $29.90  $(1.95)
Box 2  $32.78  $28.13  $(4.65)
Box 3  $33.76  $6.57  $(7.19)
Box 4  $29.01  $26.52  $(2.49)

As you can see, Imperfect Produce has cost more than the grocery store on all of my boxes.  If you subtract out the box and delivery charge the prices of the actual produce and fruits are cheaper, but once you include the total cost Imperfect Produce really isn’t a deal.

The actual produce usually looks pretty comparable to what is at the grocery store.  Some of the items (espeically fruit) are often smaller than at the store, but really the most obvious things are like the carrots are almost always shaped like giant turnips and the onions tend to be either gigantic or tiny.

Items that saved the most:

Item Imperfect Produce Cost  Store Cost  Savings %
Conventional Green Bell Peppers (2 ct)  $0.99  $5.56  $4.6 82%
Conventional Avocados (12 ct)  $7.74  $12.20  $4.5 37%
Organic Leek (2 ct)  $4.67  $8.18  $3.5 43%
Conventional Parsnips (1.5 lb)  $0.69  $2.30  $1.6 70%
Conventional Apples (3 ct) 1lb  $1.88  $3.15  $1.3 40%

Don’t use this to save money.

If you are looking to get your vegetables delivered this is totally a viable option that doesn’t cost much more than the store.  But keep in mind, you will generally end up paying more for the convenience of the having the box delivered. Selection varies week to week, so I do like using the boxes to try out different fruits and vegetables.  On top of that you’ll be helping out to reduce food waste, although I’m not sure how much of those savings are offset by the delivery and non-reusable delivery box.

If you want to try out imperfect produce and live in one of the cities here’s a link for your first Imperfect Produce box. As of this post, Imperfect Produce operates in many cities including:

  • San Francisco Bay Area, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Orange County, CA
  • Portland, OR
  • Seattle, WA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Milwaukee, WI

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