Others have tried – and failed – to sell imperfect products.
In 2016, Whole Foods Market, Walmart, HyVee, and Associated Food Stores, among others, began selling misshapen fruits and vegetables. Many retailers created displays in their product sections explaining why the selections weren’t photo-ready and the prices so good. A Harris poll that year found that 62% of those polled said they would be somewhat open to eating”ugly product“which have the same taste as the non-deformed products.
But after this initial wave of enthusiasm, grocers began to lose interest. Indeed, after years of marketing perfect-looking products, consumer re-education has not paid off, according to industry watchers.
Soon, almost every market threw in the towel or found other ways to use misshapen products. Whole Foods Market, for example, uses odd-looking products in its ready meals and smoothie stations.
Yet many consumers – 58%, in a 2021 survey – continued to say they would opt for flawed products if offered at a discount.
Enter online sellers, who have picked up where grocers left off. Although each outlet makes misshapen fruits and vegetables the centerpiece of their offerings, they differ somewhat. Perfectly imperfect, one of the smaller players, for example, allows customers to select the size, frequency and content of their order, allowing them to choose boxes with names such as Soup Lovers, Organic Mix and Salad Bar . At Hungry Harvest, shoppers can select a curated harvest box of conventional or organic produce or customize one of their own.
Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods source from growers who grow conventional and organic fruits and vegetables. Misfits works with approximately 100 product producers throughout the year. Imperfect Foods does not break down food producers specifically, but has a list of 1,200 farmers, producers and food suppliers across the country.
How do they stack? To find out, I compared offers from Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods, which both deliver to my neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, with my local Stop & Shop supermarket.