Is Imperfect Foods Worth it?

Update 1/4/2021: It still seems like they’re sending random extra items with most of my orders. It’s actually pretty rare for anything to be missing so I’m not sure if this is intentional or not? Overall it’s kind of a nice surprise and if there’s something I don’t want one of my neighbors has taken it pretty quickly. Imperfect Foods has been a good balance of value for grocery delivery compared to Instacart especially with these bonus items.

Update 8/17/2020: I’m not sure what’s going on with Imperfect Foods, but they keep sending me random items with my boxes. I keep getting what I ordered (minus things they cut from the order) plus a bunch of random things, like I don’t know how you accidentally send me my exact order plus kombucha, milk, and cheese that I didn’t order.

Update 5/9/2020: So I decided to restart using Imperfect Produce because it seemed like a nice supplement to get food delivered with the shelter in place warnings. Imperfect Produce is now called Imperfect Foods and has expanded the product lines to some dry goods (grains), dairy, meat and seafood.

In terms of cost, it looks like the box fee went away and everything is a-la carte so you don’t need to sign up for the Meat & Seafood, Grains, or Dairy packs to actually get those things. Dairy, Meat, & Seafood is shipped inside an insulated box with an ice-pack. If you’ve done Blue Apron, it’s basically the same set up. I think in terms of pricing and quality everything seems about the same as before when I wrote this article a couple years ago. In general, the pricing is fair-ish but not really cheaper when you account for the size and weight of the produce, but they are very consistent about delivering on time.

Original Review: 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 (especially 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. Edit 1/4/21: Fruit has consistently been small and or bruised looking. I don’t know why, but vegetables almost always are in pretty good shape but the fruit is usually not.

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

Grocery Delivery is Now Normal!

Added 1/4/21: Well with the times as they are now, I never thought that grocery delivery would be something that would be part of my normal routine. But here we are.

Imperfect Foods has some limitations compared to other grocery delivery companies. The grains, meats, and dairy selections are pretty basic, but I can feed my household on it so it works. The brands typically are more comparable to what you would find at Whole Foods or Sprouts, so it may be a little different than what you expect from like Kroger.

Compared to Instacart, the schedules are inflexible and you have to plan your orders days in advance. But on the other hand, I do find the total delivered to the door prices pretty comparable to Instacart and Shipt. Once you add in all the extra fees for a lot of competing delivery companies (tip, delivery, bags), the all in cost of Imperfect Foods starts to look pretty competitive (no tip, delivery fees are often waived if you spend enough).

I still stand by my original assessment that compared to in-store shopping, the savings really aren’t there. But if we’re comparing like-for-like Imperfect Foods is a very compelling option that I’ve started to use more of and would recommend as long as your ok with the selection, schedule, and don’t expect to save much money.

23 thoughts on “Is Imperfect Foods Worth it?”

  1. I understand your comparison but you didn’t mention the cost of gasoline and time driving to the store or multiple stores to get some items you may want. I think the variety is good and for those that live a little rural it works.

  2. I received my first box of the imperfect food today. It will also be the last!! I am not impressed with it at all!! I would not recommend it to anyone. My Daughter recommended this company to me. However, our opinions certainly are different when it comes to the value of buying imperfect food. No thank you!!

    1. Maybe give them one more try?

      I am noone, not even a subscriber as in my area there is a waitlist, however one try isn’t enough to completely write them off-at least in my opinion.

      Best of luck & enjoy your produce!!

  3. We’ve gotten about 5 boxes worth of Imperfect Foods. I am consistently not impressed. My daughter is the fan but even she has to admit that is hard to cope with having things in her order and then having them not show up in the delivery.

    In my view, Imperfect Food takes more time to prep. And since we are getting what is on offer, it’s like constantly being in the Chopped Kitchen trying to figure out what to make with what we’ve got.

    The mission is supposedly to reduce food waste. But how does it help for me to eat the mutant carrots? I am not eating more food, just lower down on the food chain. What is happening to the “perfect” food I am no longer eating? I think the mission is sell low cost imperfect and surplus products at full price by wrapping them in a warm and fuzzy mission statement.

  4. I have been using this service for the past six months.I have been very pleased with the quality and variety of foods offered. I especially like the freshness of the lettuce. Imperfect foods has helped me to eat healthier and to be a better meal planner. I intend on continuing this service indefinitely.

  5. I was excited about the prospect of trying this service, but I am skeptical now. We go through a lot of produce and I was looking forward to an exotic selection that I am unlikely to find at my local grocer. Not only have I been disappointed with the selection, it’s much more expensive than my local grocery store. The snacks and seafood are also pricey even after factoring in the cost of transportation to and from my grocery store. I wish there was a wider selection such as exotic greens, fennel, broccoflower, etc. For now, I have skipped two weeks in a row. I am going to give it another try in a few weeks before I cancel my subscription.

  6. I started getting Imperfect when Covid started as I couldn’t go to the market and instant cart was expensive and kept canciling.
    My diet is mostly vegetables and protein and fruits and grains. I only paid a delivery charge twice and I can hit $60.00 easily as it is mostly my only grocery source. I have referred 10 people and 8 are recurring customers. Their customer service is great.
    Everything is fresh, occasionally something won’t be great but that’s life. I will continue after Covid. If something is a problem they will stand behind their product and credit my account. I’ve learned to order a little extra encase something is not in the stock. Sometimes I tip the driver and they are so greatful.

  7. I started using this service a few months before COVID. I’m really happy with it, but I can see how it’s not for everyone. I agree that, for the most part, this is not really a money-saver in terms of the price of the products, but I think prices are fair for the most part. Where it really helps me it is saving me from impulse purchases at the grocery store and making me more mindful about what I need. Often what happens is I’ll load up my cart as soon as it opens, and then the next day, I’ll go through and ask myself, “Do I REALLY need this this week? Will I be able to finish all this before it goes bad?” and then I adjust accordingly. For a few weeks they went through a phase where I wasn’t getting a few of the items I ordered and that was disappointing, but they handled it well (refunded me promptly, often before I even asked), and I lived. I’ll definitely keep using this after the pandemic.

  8. tried it for the first time and was doing a direct comparison to misfits. I wasn’t impressed with imperfect foods. It didn’t seem like a lot of produce for the price. Yes it’s convenient but they sent WAY TOO many emails.

  9. I think it’s important to note the cost of food where you live. I live in downtown Detroit and a pint of ice cream will run you 7.00. I only buy organic products. The cost savings for me has brought my grocery bill down almost $75 a week with this. Partially due to not buying things I don’t need as I stroll through Whole Foods, partially due to the lower price. I think they have great prices for organic produce!

  10. Instead of Marketing that these producers would be thrown away resulting in food waste why couldn’t they be donated to local food pantry’s and homeless kitchens? I know a friend that is a chef for a homeless food kitchen that could do amazing things with all kinds of produce!

    1. That’s a nice idea, but, how practical is it? Who is the middle man that processes the food for distribution? Food pantry’s do well when someone can get the food to them, but don’t do so well when they have to go out and find the farmers, load and haul the goods. That’s what Imperfect Foods does. They aren’t wrong when they say the misfit foods wouldn’t have a market if Imperfect wasn’t there to be that market.

      Farmers are busy entrepreneurs and they love that someone has stepped into the gap and provided a market for produce that simply doesn’t sell otherwise. That same farmer has no incentive to rent a truck and haul it to homeless food kitchens. That’s a cost of both time and money that he can ill afford.

      Perhaps, Debra, you can search local farmers and see if they’d like to donate misfit food to you and you could find a way to haul it to pantry’s and homeless kitchens. Good luck.

  11. I just canceled my subscription after 2 orders. The first order was a disaster, but the company made good on it. Produce was very poor quality and in some cases inedible. In the second order, the produce looks great, but then peaches and nectarines began to deteriorate – mold and oozing liquid- the next day.

  12. Good luck getting your food if you order from this place! If they deliver….if…it won’t be to your house. Happened four times last year and once was to an office. They lie and say you entered your own address and phone number in wrong after you have had them for years. That’s a huge load of crap. Then they take two days dragging to get the food past their two day food delivery window. They spend more time thinking up lies and lame excuses than doing anything about shipping food. Not worth crap, this company started with a good idea and then they sold out and got greedy, they have also partnered with the weakest form of delivery service I’ve ever witnessed and I’m including everything from Amazon to UPS. This place is absolutely Pathetic.

  13. I have been using Imperfect for over a year and a half. I love it! I also really like when they add random items to my order. They are often items I couldn’t afford (beautiful Atlantic Salmon) or didn’t want to take a chance on not liking (almond milk). The consistent delivery is perfect for me as I am an elder living alone.

  14. I’ve been using imperfect food since March 2020. Saw my neighbor using it. With covid the delivery made sense. I now love imperfect food.! I know what it costs before I check out so it saves me money. Items are fresh. Once in a while get something I did not order but they always compensate for it promptly. Deliver on time and items are fresher then I see in my local store. I get a senior discount so that is great as well. No other store offers that. Lov our driver who is very helpful . Thank goodness for imperfect food. I am healthier for it. Lost weight eating more fruit and vegetables.

  15. Marketing in America! You gotta love it! Especially when people are conned into buying inferior products at an escalated price! It’s crazy! People live in their delusional imaginations to mentally masturbate and feel good about lazy and uninformed decisions.
    Just GOOGLE it for heaven’s sake! This produce DOESN’T come form local sources. It comes from a consortium of national conglomeration that is selling you an inferior bill of goods.
    Yes, you’ve been conned. You’re paying overpriced monies for an inferior product. HOW is this “sustainable”? It’s just foolishness. What terrible bill of sales are you buying, and more importantly, WHY? I cn only guess that you really just don’t want to know? You ARE, the problem.

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