About Imperfect Produce
Imperfect Produce was founded by Ben Simon, Ben Chesler and Aleks Strub. The company aims to reduce wasted food and efforts by getting grocery-rejected ‘imperfect’ produce and delivering them straight to their customer’s doors for a price far lower than grocery store prices.
The company came from the idea started by Simon that sought to reduce food waste in university cafeterias - the Food Recovery Network. He an Chesler founded Imperfect Produce in 2015 in order to upscale the FRN in a larger, more worldwide scale.
Imperfect Produce’s subscription box is an affordable and convenient way to get fruit and vegetable produce straight to your door for a much lower price than you would get at a supermarket.
Statistically speaking, more than 20% of produce end up getting rejected by groceries because they don’t meet their standards of beauty. Only ‘perfect’ looking fruits and vegetables find their way into the shelves and are then sold for high prices.
Imperfect Produce aims to get those imperfect produce, which are no less nutritious and delicious than their more ‘perfect’ counterparts, to consumer’s doorsteps.
The beauty in this system is that no produce is rejected and what you do get from them comes 30-50% cheaper. Plus, you don’t have to make the trip to the grocery store to get it.
How Does It Work?
Imperfect Produce sources their produce from a long list of farms and farmers who work hard to provide fruits and vegetables to groceries.
However, because of the nature of the market that only seeks to sell the most ‘beautiful’ products that’s up to their standards, a sizeable chunk of fruits and vegetables end up in the reject pile.
“Imperfect” is, of course, just a term to refer to the produce that’s not up to par with the appearance standards of groceries. Otherwise, they are just as edible and nutritious.
Rejected produce is often tossed aside simply because:
- Their size and/or color doesn’t fit well with the average ones
- They look differently shaped
- They have too many markings on the skin
- They are a surplus to the standard number that the groceries need
Imperfect Produce takes these rejects and puts them in their ‘Imperfect box.’ Their produce are both organic and traditional and come from both local and distant sources in order to truly stand with their mission of following the waste and seeking to help farmers save on energy and resources.
No matter what, they deliver products of only the highest quality and are still as fresh and delicious as the ones in the grocery store’s produce section.
These food products also go through multiple stages of inspection and storage to ensure that only the best quality ends up getting delivered to your home.
Customization is one of their best features, allowing customers to pick the contents of their boxes that come in a personalized schedule that best fits your lifestyle. Even the box size can be chosen, depending on what is most convenient for your needs.
You’ll be informed what produce is available for that week and you are able to choose which ones you want in your box and they’ll pack and deliver it to you. Besides that, you are also able to purchase a ‘surprise box.’
Cost and Price Plans
The pricing varies depending on the box size, preference of contents (organic vs. traditional) as well as frequency of delivery. That being said, expect a price range of around $15-$50, depending on your customization options.
Imperfect Produce can be contacted through their different email addresses, but their support email is [email protected] They are very receptive to inquiries regarding their products.
On the other hand, if you want to cancel your subscription for whatever reason, you are able to do so without any penalties. However, you do have to make sure that you cancel before your upcoming order.
Many customers are satisfied with Imperfect Produce’s services and the quality of their produce. However, there are also some who experienced delayed deliveries, bad quality produce as well as a lack of invoices to indicate what they should be expecting in the box.
That being said, people commend the zero-waste quality that Imperfect Produce advocates and how the deliveries also come with practically zero wastes.
Competitors and Alternatives
Ungraded Produce offers similar services that challenge typical aesthetic standards of marketable produce. Their online produce delivery services are limited to the NC Triangle area only, though.
Charlie’s Fruits Online has an “Ugly Box” product that contains Grade 2 quality produce for delivery. It’s excluded from their 7-day freshness guarantee for this reason.
Grower’s Organic also has a “Pretty Ugly Box” that contains 1 weeks’ worth of “ugly” produce to help reduce food waste. In addition, with every purchase, $1 is donated to a non-profit organization called “We Don’t Waste.”
Where to Buy?
Imperfect Produce subscriptions can be purchased on their website, www.imperfectproduce.com and you are able to customize your orders from there as well.
Imperfect Produce challenges the beauty standards of the food products that get sold and sources the ones that usually end up being scrapped in order to reduce food, energy and resource waste.
Their mission to help hardworking farmers who farm these produces also helps to encourage these growers that even the “reject pile” can still be sold and sourced from them. If their movement is something you support, you should definitely check them out.
1 ‘Imperfect Produce’ Review
When Imperfect Produce came into my area I was excited as I've used produce deliver/CSAs before, but my location was a little slower in making them available. IP, came around and I decided it was worth the try as I attempt to buy based on sustainability and the concept of helping to receive the food that would otherwise go bad was perfect for being able to help that goal.
It was all easy enough until I received my box. 100% of the food was rotten beyond saving. Mold was growing on all the vegetables and most where bruised beyond being able to even turn them into a soup or sauce. I took a picture and told Imperfect Perfection and they refunded me the amount for the box with an explanation that it happens (supposedly rarely) and that they would make sure to adjust delivery times.
I figured I would give them a try again and kept the next order open. When it came in same thing...ever bit of produce either rotten, moldy, or looked like it was put though a rock tumbler.
I called the customer service who again was friendly, apologetic, and refunded my amount but this time I told them that until they can make sure their food was edible I couldn't order anymore. They assured me they would and then offered a free delivery to prove it. I agreed and waited for the next one. It came and the very first thing I took out (spinach) was covered in slime from rot and half black. I didn't even bother to call again, I made sure to unsubscribe and haven't looked back.
I've heard plenty of positive stories about Imperfect, but I've also heard just as many bad. I've also notice a high amount of bloggers who have reviewed the product with makes me nervous as that typically means they get the product or free or at least have more incentive to be receiving good products to ensure the marketing goes better. It also may be dependent on region as it is local produce and delivery operations so I'm not completely blaming IP. But when your entire premise is to save food from waste and then you go on to continue wasting food (while taking customers money in the process) it leaves a really bad tastes in the mouth and really puts the business in question. I hope it improves in my area but until then I absolutely can't recommend it.