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.