Wondering if Imperfect Produce is a good fit for you? I gave it a try and here’s how it worked out for me—my review of Imperfect Produce.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
A few years ago I heard about this company called Imperfect Produce. The concept of their business was to help farmers get blemished and surplus produce to the consumer, thereby reducing food waste and helping consumers reduce their budgets.
I love this idea so back in 2019, I signed up. It’s been a few years now and we’ve received a dozen deliveries in that time, so I thought now would be good to update my review.
(If you sign up with a friend’s referral link, you get a $10 credit. Here’s my referral link: http://imprfct.us/v/jessica_44897 – To be clear, I would receive a credit toward a future order when you do.)
It’s more than just produce.
Since I first signed up in 2019, Imperfect Produce has rebranded to be called Imperfect Foods. They currently sell fruits and vegetables as well as meat, fish, plant-based proteins, canned goods, grains, nuts, and even chocolate!
Bryan particularly likes their chocolate disks. The gourmet cheeses and meats have been quite delicious.
These foods are often times overstock or blemished (aka imperfect for the commercial market). However, over the last year, I saw foods listed for sale that were meant for the restaurant market, but due to so many establishments being closed, the foods were diverted to Imperfect.
While I wouldn’t say you could do all your grocery shopping with this service, you can certainly acquire a wide range of goods.
What’s the quality like?
The produce is generally imperfect.
Years ago, I subscribed to a weekly produce co-op. I loved the variety of fruits and vegetables we would receive as well as the abundance. I confess, it’s hard to break those expectations. Produce from Imperfect is decidedly different.
You will find super big or super small items as well as those with cosmetic blemishes. This doesn’t bother me in the slightest as long as the quality and taste are good.
Unfortunately, the quality and taste have been a mixed bag. I loved the mini monster peppers we received in our last box, but in previous deliveries the quality hasn’t been great.
In fact, some of the foods ripen at weird rates or not at all. Others go bad pretty quickly. We’ve ended up wasting things because of this which is kinda not the point.
A downside of size issue is that if you place an order expecting a certain size butternut squash, and a very tiny squash arrives, one about the size of a medium potato, (see above) your meal plan may take a hit.
That happened to me with the above squash. I had a certain recipe in mind when I ordered that didn’t really pan out because what arrived was different than I expected.
How do you order?
The ordering process is pretty fantastic. An automatic box is virtually filled for you, but you have the chance to customize the order. You can take what they automatically include, subtract what you don’t want, or add things that you do.
While you’ll be automatically scheduled for weekly deliveries, you can skip a week or weeks whenever you want.
One downside in the ordering process is that some item descriptions aren’t always super specific. “Bell peppers” can be listed as green, red, or yellow, but you won’t know what you’re going to get until the order arrives. I ordered “summer squash”, hoping for zucchini, but received yellow crookneck which I don’t love as much.
What are the prices like?
You know that I am a grocery geek. You also know that I already get pretty killer prices on fresh fruits and vegetables, thanks to ALDI and Sprouts sales.
I admit, this makes it really hard for Imperfect Produce to compete with. For me, the prices are okay, but fair to middling in general.
Since there’s a delivery charge, it really doesn’t pencil out for me at this time unless I have a coupon, a credit to use, or see a great product and price we really want. I check in about once a month to see what’s available and then decide.
Your mileage may vary. If you don’t have ALDI or Sprouts sales to draw from, then Imperfect Foods may be a bargain for you.
For me, price is one of the main factors I buy something. Using it well in my meal plan is a second. Unfortunately, Imperfect Produce doesn’t score too highly on either count.
While I believe that food waste is an important cause, it isn’t as important to me globally as eliminating food waste in my own home first.
How is the customer service?
Customer service is fantastic!
When the delivery day arrives, you will get a text that the delivery is pending. This is helpful to make sure that the box doesn’t sit for long in the afternoon sun on hot days.
The email system works well to notify you when it’s time to customize your order or skip it altogether.
I have been offered the chance to complete surveys, offering input on the pricing. I received a personalized email in return explaining their pricing structure (they try to be aware of local sales and still give the farmer a decent return) as well as a coupon code for a discount in the future.
When we received dried beef instead of chocolate in one order, the customer service rep was quick to refund the cost.
Is it a great fit for you?
I’d say that if Imperfect Produce delivers to your area and you like fresh produce and can be flexible on size and condition, then it very well may be a good fit for you. You should at least give it a try. Especially if you don’t like grocery shopping.
I think it comes down to a meal plan personality thing. If you’re up for the challenge and surprise, then definitely give it a shot!
Will I continue to order? Yes. For the novelty of it and to support a good cause, I’m all in.
From a practical standpoint, it’s not the best choice for us to adjust our grocery spending. I’ll likely not do it very often, unless I see some great prices.
Remember, you can get $10 off your first order when you use my referral link to sign up.
Have you tried Imperfect Produce?
This post was originally published on May 15, 2019. It has been updated for content and clarity.
I’m also in camp “I tried it and didn’t really like it” only I was a Misfits Market subscriber. In terms of “waiting in line in the freezing cold to get into the grocery store” it might have been better on a good week. I’m still holding an $11 credit which I’m going to have to use at some point.
I love the idea of saving food from being dumped. I love the idea of saving money. I just didn’t love the implementation that Misfit Markets delivered.
Long time CSA subscriber in the summer, so adjusting my menu because the produce is slightly different than expected is no big deal. But we ran into the same hit or miss quality issues and then they raised our minimum order AND our shipping rate at the same time. Needless to say, I ended up cancelling! I still occasionally order from Misfits Market, although I don’t like their produce selection set up (choose x number of items from each list).
When it’s not CSA/farmer’s market season, I buy most of our produce at Aldi–great prices but limited selection.
I stopped getting boxes from them. The quality was so hit or miss and I found the produce spoiled within a day or two and I was throwing a lot away. I love the idea, but it needs some fine tuning.
This works for us. We’ve been using Imperfect Produce since November of 2019. We qualify for the discount and it’s nice to be able to customize the box–get rid of what you don’t want or add more of what you do. I also like that you can skip. If my budget can’t handle an order for the week, I just skip. Or in the summer, when we grow our own, I skip a lot. I have been burned a couple of times: counting on a particular thing and not getting it, but for the most part, this is a way to get us to eat more veggies and I have ordered a few other items like grains. I think their customer service is pretty great. They’ve always gotten back to me quickly and refunded without problem. It was helpful during the lockdown and while I know I am paying more than Aldi’s, I don’t have to leave the house and that saves me time.
I tried them several times last spring when we had the first Covid shutdowns to avoid going to the store for fresh produce. Every order was either missing something or contained just inedible produce. I’m fine with a couple of bruises on an apple but not brown lettuce. We appreciated being able to buy non-produce items that we couldn’t find locally for awhile such as dried lentils and meat substitutes for my vegetarian daughter. Their customer service was quick to respond to emails and I never had a problem being credited for missing or rotten items. I loved the concept and really wanted it to work, but it was a miss here.
I am very satisfied with every stage of the process with Imperfect Foods. It took some time with the site to really understand the billing and delivery but it is all quite simple from signup, selection, to delivery. Plus, the price is just fine- and I’m a cheapy. I bought extra and put it in green food saver bags in the fridge. I am so thankful this came along at this time. Now with this delivery service, I only have to go to the store once a month for paper goods and condiments; let’s see if I can stretch that to two months.
Vegetarian here, Detroit, was super excited for this.
Sadly my 1st order will probably be my last!
Ordered many items, $100 total. Completely surprised when driver leaves a tiny box, drives away.
Not possible like oat milk could have fit.
Take inside, open, I was SHOCKED.
There were 6 pears, 4 apples, 3 types of Lettuce we didn’t order, 2 cucumbers, 4 potatoes.
Almost our ENTIRE ORDER was missing!
All fruits, 2 kinds of bread, 2 waffle mixes, muffin mix, 18 eggs, hummus, chocolate bar, pecans, oat milk, mac & cheese, Romaine, oranges, hush puppy mix, broccoli, cheese platter, and bf ordered bacon and 2 packs of chicken, even Welcome Kit.
None of it was delivered!
Then they charged my Visa for the ENTIRE $100 order!
We are in lock-down for Coronavirus, this was supposed to be meals for us next 2 weeks.
Been trying to contact them for 18 hours, nothing. They’re busy!
If not fixed following day, will create a CC Chargeback.
I mean, I am beside myself shocked. I read nothing bad about this company.
We can’t go to stores, I tested positive for CV, and then this happens. Plus I’m out of the money for groceries!
I’m so sorry to hear this. Get well soon!
I believe you. I am so sorry.
Same issue, only I didn’t get anything I didn’t order. More than half of my order was missing, much fewer quantities than ordered, or a wrong substitution. Very unhappy. Will see if they resolve via email. Could’ve gotten more produce and food of better quality of what I got at Walmart, HyVee or Trader Joe’s for the price I paid. Bountiful Baskets is waaayy better than Imperfect Produce.
Be careful about ordering from Imperfect Foods. Granted this is an extraordinary time with the COVID virus all around. Here’s my experience with the company. I ordered on a Monday. I was charged on that Wednesday ($60) for my first box. It was promised for Friday. It never arrived. A few days later, I got an automated email saying that my box had been delivered. Really? Where? Not to my house.
I sent an email to the company explaining that I had never received the box. Today is Thursday of the next week and I have not heard back from the company nor have I been refunded my money that they were so quick to take.
I would STRONGLY warn anyone contemplating using this company to think again. I got burned. Next step is to notify my credit card company of fraud.
They really should not charge your account until the box is shipped. Poor business practices, poor management and most of all non-existent customer relations. I found this site because I was looking to see if this company was for real or a scam. I was duped, but you don’t have to be.
I’m sorry to hear that happened to you, Margaret. I sure hope they make it right!
Where can I find your monthly grocery reports?
After you changed the webpage design, I cannot seem to find them unless I type on the search bar. Even then, the dates are missing, so, Grocery Geek posts from different years pop up. I was trying to find December 2019.
Thanks & Happy New Year!
You can find them here: https://goodcheapeats.com/category/build%20a%20frugal%20pantry/grocery-geek/ I stopped doing them late last Spring because they took 3 to 5 hours to write, time I don’t really have. Am strategizing a way to do them this year that doesn’t take so much time.
Although I love the concept, and I loved the fun of picking my items and unboxing everything when the box arrived, I did find that unfortunately, the quality was hit and miss, especially the fruit. Also, and I’m not at all sure why, but things did not seem to ripen correctly. We eventually cancelled the service because of these issues, as well as often not being able to get what I wanted (ie the bell peppers, and regularly used vegetables like lettuce almost never available), and overall better prices and quality we found at the grocery stores. Sad, I would have loved for it to be just what we wanted.
Sorry it didn’t work for you! They don’t deliver in Nebraska yet and I think I’ll stick with Aldi’s and Fresh Thyme and the farmer we support every year. They open this Wednesday and we used to spend about $20 a week. Their watermelons and cantaloupes are awesome!
We used to do Bountiful Basket but they stopped and we’ve tried Fresh Produce but I can usually have better luck at the store.
I think it’s a great concept, but it is really going to vary by location and individual household.
I’m in Ohio and currently they don’t offer delivery in our area. I love the concept of purchasing ugly produce, have in the past when we were farmer market regulars. There was a news story last year that Meijer (local grocery store) was going to have a section for the ugly produce. I haven’t seen it at our local store, but know they have them in Michigan.
Fingers crossed we get something soon
Would definitely be interesting if more grocery stores did this!
I’m hoping they get to my area soon, but I am likely to feel the same way you do.
Let us know how it goes!
Aww I’m sad. I was super excited to have the experience of delivery veggies! I know there are other services like Hungry Harvest ( I may have the name wrong). I wonder if their prices are lower. Even though I haven’t compared, I’m willing to bet that Aldi does have better prices.
Sad because they don’t deliver to your area? Or sad because prices might not be the best? I think the latter is really going to depend on season, availability, and location. Your mileage may vary from mine.
It’s a great Idea, has some bugs to work out, you didn’t mention enough on quantities or actual cost of the box ( total). Produce is high with Peapod ( I can’t walk well enough to do my own grocery shop & no longer drive) it might work, but if it’s like the usual farm CSA, the bulk can be heavy towards what’s in season & crop ready each week. I buy greens but need staple vegetables in certain amounts. I don’t care what color my peppers are but need 6-8 not 2. & 4 cucumbers not 1. I can’t go to the grocery store to correct differences. We use a Meat CSA that works for us, the price is good, but chicken is very limited & turkey not at all, so I’m still buying those at market prices. That’s how I see this. I grew up on a farm, the imperfects & bumper crops we couldn’t sell are what we ate & preserved for winter. It’s hard to plan meals around that in my current situation. However, I really appreciate this article & your doing the research & trial, it saves me having to talk Hubs into it, then having it not pan out. Thank you so much for this article.
Ah, the prices are in one of the pictures. Hopefully, you can see them clearly enough. You can edit your order to adjust the quantities or omit things that you don’t like. It’s highly customizable in terms of quantity, but price and actual condition of the items (in terms of size) is out of your control. You do get to see the prices before you buy, though, so that is helpful.
Thanks for the reply. My vision isn’t too great, one reason I no longer drive, so I can’t see the small details in the photos. I do thank you for such a quick reply, on a Sunday no less. It is an interesting option for those it could work for. I really miss our community garden plot, we raised a lot of our own Organic Produce in that small patch. I’m looking forward to more interesting emails from goodcheapeats.
Thanks so much, MaryAnn!
Hi. I really like them in every way. I am on SSDI. And I sent them documentation and they give me an extra 30% off! So it is very affordable for me! Thank you!
That is awesome. Good job for taking the extra steps to get a discount!
I’m with you, Jessica. My husband and I just decided yesterday that we need to cut that from our grocery budget because, even though it’s fun, it’s not worth it. Sprouts is cheaper and, frankly, yummier. However, the two or three months that I got boxes from them did spark my interest and begin to grow a new love for different fruits and veggies.
I will probably buy oyster mushrooms and Padrón peppers and chard (actually, I’m going to try to grow my own) once in awhile. I was in a grocery shopping rut. Just buying the same fruits and veg every week. Now I am more likely to add a few new things to my cart ?
Yeah, I’m bummed that it wasn’t more fruitful. lol. I buy the Shishito peppers at Sprouts, big bag for $1.99. Super good!
I wanted it to work. I would try to customize my box taking out items we dont use and try to add more potatoes or low end products only to be told they were sold out. that left only the more expensive ones like berries; artichokes etc. I also found that we got several avocados and they were awful and inedible in just a matter of days. My small bis is down to like 5.00 since I cant get more of the root vegetables and dont want the expensive ones (Cos I can go to the store if that’s all the same).
We tried it again, and the cucumbers were practically inedible. Such a bummer!
I like your review, but it’s misleading to not share that you, too, get a kickback from random readers using your referral link. Full disclosure, please.
My apologies if that wasn’t clear, Victoria. There is a disclosure at the top of EVERY POST on this site whether or not that post contains affiliate links.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. We participate in other affiliate programs as well. For more details, please see our disclosure policy.
Who cares… You get a discount, they get a discount. Are we offended by discounts now? Jeesh.