Subscription box delivery has been a super hot trend in the past few years. Everything from curated makeup to monthly vinyl selections to fresh meals are available for consumers to try out and just perhaps, become loyal customers.
If you ask me, most of them are junk. But one of the most successful “sectors” that seems to only get more popular is ugly produce delivery.
Ugly produce delivery is becoming a go-to choice for shoppers to receive their weekly batch of produce, snacks and pantry needs. While Amazon Fresh, Instacart, and Fresh Direct are leading the charge for online grocery delivery in general, they’re just marking up the prices on the same products you’d buy in-store. So for those who are looking for a more consistent, curated, and conscious delivery option, the bigger players may not quite strike a chord with you.
Today, we’re going to be looking at two of the top dawgs in the ugly produce niche and how they compare: Misfit Markets vs Imperfect Foods. We’ll give you all the details, including some real-world pics, my experience, where each company delivers, the products you can order, price comparisons, and more. And ultimately, we’ll help you walk away with the answer to which service is right for YOU.
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🥕 Is the hype around ugly produce delivery legit?
Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods are both produce-based box subscriptions that aim to reduce food waste and provide shoppers with sustainable, affordable groceries.
Both services source “ugly” or unwanted produce directly from farmers that would otherwise be thrown out before making it to the supermarket or grocery store. Ugly produce has superficial imperfections or cosmetic blemishes that cause them to be rejected. However, they are just as high quality, fresh and tasty as their normal counterparts.
Founded in 2015, Imperfect Foods has been around for several years and as of 2021, has over 300,000 paying customers. Its competitor, Misfits Market, recently launched in 2018. But despite being newer to the market, both companies are wildly successful. Although both companies serve very similar purposes and missions, there are few key differences between the two. We’ll get into those in just a sec.
Needless to say, both companies are striving to make an impact in eliminating food waste.
Are Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods cost-effective?
The bottom line is: yes.
For both companies, the cost comes out to be on par with (or considerably cheaper than) how much it would cost to purchase the same products at the grocery store. Purchasing organic produce yields even greater savings. Of course you may find that ordering a ton of organic snacks foods will hurt the overall value a bit, but that’s the case at any grocery store.
Both Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods often offer promotions for first-time customers, like these:
💰 Product Comparison: Misfits Markets vs Imperfect Foods
Before we get too deep into either of these ugly produce deliveries, here’s a quick look at how they stack up: from a 30,000 ft view.
What sorts of foods do Misfits and Imperfect Foods offer?
Misfits Market specializes in organic produce, and also offers tasty snacks
Misfits Market offers 100% organic produce and a limited selection of other groceries through the Misfits Marketplace — a discounted grocery store. Misfits Market’s produce selection has most of the vegetable and fruit staples that you would expect, including organic apples, oranges, potatoes, peppers, lettuce, and more. I particularly liked the variety of fruits options such as fuji and gala apples, valencia oranges, tommy atkins mangoes, and other “rarities”. I’ll share my recent grocery list later in this post.
The Misfits Marketplace offers additional grocery and pantry items for genuinely great prices—mostly snacks, protein bars, and soups —but it also has items like dog treats (my roommate’s pup loves the Pumpkin + Peanut Butter bites), olive oil, and oat milk creamer. Generally, you’ve got over 100 different goodies to browse through. In terms of quality, I’d compare their pantry items to the type of stuff you’d find at Sprouts or Whole Foods.
Oh and as of my most recent purchase, Misfits also offers meat products, which are packed in special cold packs.
Imperfect Foods is similar, but more like an online grocery store
Back in the day, Imperfect Foods was actually branded as Imperfect Produce. So it should come as no surprise that, similar to Misfits Market, Imperfect Foods offers both organic and conventional groceries.
But in late 2019, they rebranded to Imperfect Foods and expanded their grocery offerings. Overall, they’ve got a much larger variety of offerings than Misfits Market does. It feels like more of the traditional, local grocery store experience. You can shop for produce, meat, seafood, plant-based items, eggs, dairy, grains, pantry staples, snacks… Heck — they’ve even got household and beauty items.
What states are they available in?
Take a look at this map (that our team very skillfully created in Photoshop) that shows coverage for Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods. There’s quite a bit of overlap, but for many of you, your option will be limited to one or the other.
If you live in an area where they overlap, great! You have the liberty of choosing which one you’d like to try out (or both, with those sweet first-timer discounts!).
If you, unfortunately, live in an area where neither company currently supports, don’t fret. Check back in a couple months down the road and it’s very possible they’ll be able to help you out, considering how quickly they’re growing.
You can also enter your zip code on their websites to see if you’re covered.
🤔 What is it like using Misfits Market or Imperfect Foods?
As we mentioned before, both companies are pretty similar in terms of their business models. But they’re actually remarkably different when you start digging deep into what they offer. Let’s get into that now. 🙂
Signing up for Misfits Market
The first step to getting started with your Misfits Market subscription is making an account. You’ll have to confirm where you’re located to see if they ship to your area.
Get straight to buildin’ out your order. When I first tried out Misfits, they had two different sizes of boxes to build, but they’ve since gotten rid of that and simplified things (which I like). With over 200 grocery items to choose from, you can get a surprising variety of food items in your box.
A couple things to note:
- There’s a $30 order minimum for building an order on Misfits Market.
- If you choose to include meat, seafood, or anything that needs to be shipped in a cold pack, this is considered a box of its own, and will therefore also carry a $30 minimum order size.
Misfits will notify you of your three-day window where you can add items to your box. Within that time, you can choose to build your own box or go with a mystery box. Once you’ve selected your items, you can hang tight as your order will be auto-confirmed once your shopping window closes. Be wary, because if you choose to make additional edits to your box, you will have to start from scratch! Additionally, you should expect some items to be sold out or unavailable by the time you select your items.
Signing up for Imperfect Foods
When you click the Sign Up button, you will be prompted to enter your zip code to confirm Imperfect Foods delivers to your address. Then, you will answer a quick survey that helps determine what type of subscription plan is best for your household. The resulting box size and type will also determine the average price of your order.
After setting up your subscription plan, you’ll be able to see what delivery day your box is scheduled to arrive and the timeframe in which you can shop. At any time, you can skip your scheduled delivery if you wish to forego it. You can also change your food preferences at any time and pick both recurring items and items you never want.
Imperfect Foods gives you a 3-day timeframe to curate your box. Based on your current subscription plan, your cart will already have items customized for you. You can change the quantities of them or remove them. If you want to, you can build your own box entirely from scratch and browse through a more traditional-looking interface. Just be careful to keep an eye on your order total as it can quickly add up!
💪 Strengths / Weaknesses: Misfits Markets vs Imperfect Foods
By now, you should have a decent feel for what Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods have in common, and what is unique about them. But if not, let’s do a quick recap of each.
Is Misfits Market a good deal?
Advantages of Misfits Market
- Convenience. Get groceries delivered on a routine schedule (weekly or biweekly) right to your doorstep
- Price. With so many tasty groceries to choose from, it’s not hard to hit that $30 minimum. And their prices seem on-par with grocery store prices in my area of San Diego.
- Easy Shopping Interface. Customize your box by browsing preselected categories. No hassle of searching through a huge catalogue. Simple as a click.
- They’re rapidly expanding their focus beyond just produce. It seems like every time I make a new order from Misfits Market, there’s something new. Most recently, I saw more seafood, plant-based protein, and enticing $0.01 promo deals.
- 100% Organic. If you only eat organic, you’re in luck.
- Trying New Produce. Acorn squash? Yellow nectarines? Black radishes? Misfits Market has got you on that.
- Flexible Delivery Date. Choose the day of the week that works best for you.
Disadvantages of Misfits Market
- Somewhat Limited Selection of Produce. Don’t expect the overall selection to compare to what you see every time you step into your local grocery store.
- Varying Quantities. It’s a toss-up, sometimes. You don’t get to choose how many of each item comes in your order, which might make it tough to plan meals accordingly. Try and be flexible!
- Limited Inventory of Produce. Since you are getting ugly produce, not every item will be available by the time you reach your shopping window. I think it’s worth noting, though, that most of the produce I’ve received hasn’t even been “ugly”.
Is Imperfect Foods a good deal?
Advantages of Imperfect Foods
- Huge Selection. It’s not as vast as a Whole Foods, but Imperfect Foods will most likely have the weekly essentials you need and a few bonuses: non-organic, organic, vegan, meat/poultry and more.
- Customization. Flexibility to build your own box and change food preferences.
- Convenience. Get groceries delivered on a routine schedule (weekly or biweekly) right to your doorstep.
- Diverse Subscription Boxes. Choose from small to extra large box size and regular, fruit, veggie, or organic box types.
- Confirmed Quantity. You will know exactly how many of each item you will receive.
Disadvantages of Imperfect Foods
- Limited Inventory. Since you are getting ugly produce, not every item will be available by the time you reach your shopping window.
- Fixed Delivery Date. Imperfect Foods automatically determines which day your order will be delivered.
⭐️ Online Reviews: Misfits Market vs Imperfect Foods
I’ll also share some research I did across Reddit, Trustpilot, Google Reviews, etc. so you can get a sense of what other customers are saying about their experiences.
Misfits Market Reviews: What are other customers saying?
After scouring customer reviews for the inside scoop, Misfits Market definitely seems to be a mixed bag (or box should we say) with everything from 5 star reviews to scathing 1 stars. The general consensus leans towards a lower rating with a 1.45 average rating of 287 reviews on Review.io and 2.4 average of 32 reviews on Trustpilot. Although Misfits Market is relatively new, according to customers, they still have a long way to go.
However, across publications like Delish and Women’s Health Mag, customers reported positive experiences. Whether this is a result of influencer marketing efforts from Misfits Market and their appealing brand strategy, well we’ll leave that to you to decide.
The Good 👍
- The availability of pantry items never ceases to impress me, and I love the meat and seafood options. (Not much of a plant-base protein guy, but that’s there, too)
- Getting to try new produce variety that customers would ordinarily not shop for
- Relatively similar price to shopping organic at grocery stores
- Cost efficient (amount vs cost)
- Good customer service
The Not-so-good 👎
- Issues with delivery delays
- Spoiled, bruised or rotten produce
- In some cases, customers found bugs in their orders. (I have a feeling that leafy greens might carry a higher risk of this)
- Unavailable or out-of-stock options can be a bit of a tease
An important observation that we discovered from reading dozens of reviews was that customer experience with shipping and delivery often varied with location. This is due to the fact that Misfits Market uses third-party shipping/logistic providers. While this doesn’t change the issues many reviewers faced, it does provide an explanation for the inconsistencies in delivery service.
I personally didn’t have any issues with delivery service (in New York). However, I did notice that the lack of protective packaging for my tomatoes caused all of them to be bruised to the point of no return (and one was moldy!) They had been placed separately in a paper carton, which inevitably didn’t do much to protect them. Some of my added-on boxed snacks and leafy vegetables were also crushed, but not horribly so. Despite these small mishaps, my produce, in general, tasted delicious.
Imperfect Foods Reviews: What are other customers saying?
Browse through Reddit a bit and you’ll see that Imperfect Foods also had a similar overarching perception, but in a slightly different light: Customers frequently found their food damaged and non-consumable, specifically with spoiled meat.
A complaint echoed across the board was the issues with poor packaging; customers found soggy boxes, melted ice packs, and crushed groceries. However, on the flip side, customers enjoyed the diversity of shopping options and ability to fully customize their orders. There was also a consensus across positive and negative reviews that Imperfect Foods’ customer service handled support well and offered generous refunds on any order issues.
The Good 👍
- Wide variety of products (organic produce, conventional produce, meat and animal products, grains, dairy, vegan options)
- Fully customizable
- Access to foods that wouldn’t be offered locally
- Biodegradable waste/packaging (with the exception of ice packs and some meat packaging)
- Good customer service that offers refunds and credits on missing or unusable items
The Not-so-good 👎
- Damaged and spoiled food
- Missing items in delivery
- Unavailable or out-of-stock options
- Poorly packaged shipments
- Specific items are priced more expensive than their counterparts/order total can add up quickly if not paying close attention
🥁 Who’s the better bet, Misfits Market vs Imperfect Foods?
Now that we have all the information on both grocery delivery services, it’s time to decide which is best for you. Both Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods have their pros and cons depending how often you look, how flexible you are, and the types of products you really want. Or heck– if you live in an area where only one is available, your decision is easy. 🙂
But here’s the gist of it:
Misfits Market keeps things simple and easy: they deliver organic produce and snacks to your door, saving you money over shopping at the grocery store. If that sounds good to you, Misfits Market should be a good fit. Misfits is also good for making sure you get those organic fruits and veggies in, while occasionally getting to try some more interesting products. Now it’s time to decide whether you want a small or a large box. 🙂
Every week, it feels like Misfits Market is rivaling Instacart’s convenience and availability of food staples. BUT they’re often the cheaper option, AND are building strong relationships with growers to fight food waste. Sooo that’s pretty awesome.
Imperfect Foods is a great option for shoppers who prefer more flexibility and a wider variety of items. It’s a good balance between a traditional online grocery shopping experience and a curated subscription box. The wide range of categories makes Imperfect Foods suitable for all types of diets. If you’re a shopper who is looking to get all their grocery needs met, and not just produce, Imperfect Foods may be the choice for you.
Both Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods can be tailored to meet your budget. While Misfits Market offers its $22 and $35 options, Imperfect Foods can range from the lower end to the higher end, depending on how much and what types of foods you’re buying.
At the end of the day, both Misfits Market and Imperfect Produce are not only giving you an affordable and convenient way to get organic produce and foods, but you’re also supporting businesses that are serious about sustainability and protecting our planet.