This is my personal review of Imperfect Foods, which used to be called Imperfect Produce.
I signed up for Imperfect Foods in January 2019 and have been an active customer since then.
This has allowed my family of five to try just about everything the service offers, from weirdly-shaped produce to pantry staple items like olive oil, dark chocolate and tortillas.
In this Imperfect Foods review, you’ll learn:
- What to know before signing up.
- Key facts about the company.
- Details of the produce and other available items.
- How the pricing works.
Our number one reason for continuing to order from Imperfect Foods is the time savings it provides. We get a box of fresh, high-quality food delivered to our door at an affordable price with just a few minutes of effort per week. Not every item looks perfect, but the taste and freshness are excellent. While Imperfect touts savings of 30%, we have not consistently seen savings that high across all items. However, free delivery for orders over $60 is cost-effective compared to other grocery delivery services (but comparable in price to shopping at a store like Trader Joe's).
- The produce is fresh since it hasn’t been sitting in a store.
- Many items are cheaper than at the supermarket.
- Offers great variety (including seasonal options).
- You can customize your box.
- The produce isn’t packaged in plastic.
- While most items offered on the platform are cheaper, some are more expensive.
- Items are sometimes out of stock, which throws a wrench into your meal planning.
- Suppliers and products change frequently, so your favorites may not be available from week to week.
13 Things to Know Before Signing Up
- The food quality is very good overall. Items are often fresher than what you’d get in a grocery store. Most of the produce isn’t very imperfect to begin with. It’s rare we get something we don’t enjoy.
- The produce is locally-sourced when possible, and over 75% of it comes from family farms and cooperatives.
- The prices range, but on average I’ve found them to be cheaper than at the supermarket. Imperfect Foods talks a lot about its customers being able to save money, but their prices do range. Some items (especially the produce) are cheaper than what you’d find in most stores. But that’s not the case for prices across the board. For example, I’ve found the meat to cost slightly more than at Trader Joe’s or Costco.
- Each order is customizable, although you can also choose to let Imperfect Foods do the picking for you.
- The website has a clean, intuitive interface that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for, customize orders, and manage your account. Plus, their mobile app makes it easy to shop on your phone.
- It’s free to change or cancel your Imperfect delivery at any time. There are no contracts or minimum purchases. You can also skip a delivery for no charge.
- The service offers a wide selection of staples, from fruits and veggies to cooking oils, eggs, dairy, meat and snacks.
- I’ve had good experiences with their customer service. Whenever we’ve had an issue with an item, they’ve issued a credit for our next order.
- It’s hard to make a strict meal plan when ordering with Imperfect Foods. There’s often an item missing from your order, which you’re notified about via email before your box arrives.
- Meat isn’t shipped with dry ice. It’s stored in a freezer bag with a frozen gel pack. Often, it still arrives frozen. Other times, it arrives cold but thawed.
- Suppliers and products change regularly. You may love a certain item one week only to find that it’s unavailable the next.
- You can get it (almost) no matter where you live. Imperfect used to have a limited delivery area, but it’s now available in nearly every zip code within the United States.
- You can’t customize your delivery day. Imperfect Foods only delivers one day per week to each area they serve.
What Is Imperfect Foods?
Imperfect Foods is a service that delivers fresh, conventionally-grown and organic produce and grocery items — including baked goods, meat, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, beverages, and household staples — right to your door.
The “imperfect” part means that the items Imperfect Foods sells may not meet a conventional grocery chain’s aesthetic standards. In other words, they might have weird shapes, unusual coloring or other cosmetic blemishes.
Grocers only want to display and sell uniform, perfect-looking produce and packaged items. So what those stores pass up, Imperfect Foods buys and sells at a discount through its direct-to-consumer subscription model.
What’s wrong with this “Grade B” food? Nothing that will impact its taste or nutritional value.
- An orange might have a bit of scarring on its peel.
- A bundle of carrots may come in different sizes.
- A bag of corn tortillas might come in an old package as opposed to the company’s newly-designed one.
In other words, “imperfect food” does not have flaws that will reduce your enjoyment of the items.
Here’s a photo of some carrots I received in a recent box:
And here’s a photo showing some additional items I received:
How Much Does Imperfect Foods Cost?
In 2023, Imperfect Foods updated its pricing model to offer more flexibility. In contrast to its previous subscription box model, the company now prices items individually, similar to a regular grocery store.
There are no subscription or service fees.
The Imperfect Foods platform displays the retail price of each item alongside the Imperfect price. The retail price is calculated based on the average price among comparable grocers.
There is a $15 order minimum per box. For orders up to $60, there’s a $5.99 shipping fee. But if you spend over $60, shipping is free.
Here’s a sampling of their pricing in September 2023:
|Lemons (2 count)
|Organic small limes (4 count)
|Organic Bartlett pears (2 count)
|Strawberries (1 pound)
|Blueberries (6 ounces)
|Organic blueberries (6 ounces)
|Boneless skinless chicken breast (14 ounces)
|Organic bunched broccoli
|Organic medium brown eggs (1 dozen)
Overall, I’ve found Imperfect Foods to have better than average prices compared to other grocery delivery services.
For example, when you add in the total cost of fees (including tipping) from a platform like Instacart, I’ve found Imperfect to be more affordable.
Their produce pricing is on par with quality retailers like Trader Joe’s. Their meat and seafood pricing is also comparable to Trader Joe’s, with some meats like organic chicken being even cheaper.
Related: Here are 15 tips for eating healthy on a budget, plus a sample meal plan and grocery shopping list.
Customizing Your Imperfect Foods Delivery Box
Saving money on groceries means not ordering a box that contains foods you don’t like and won’t eat.
But some services don’t allow you to make substitutions on your order.
With Imperfect Foods, you have many customization options.
At the start of your order period, your Imperfect Foods box will be filled with seasonal items available at that time of the year. If there are things you don’t like, you can remove them and replace them with more of the things you do like.
In fact, your box is fully customizable (within a two day pre-shipment period) if you choose to go that route, although customization isn’t required.
The screenshot below shows how you can scroll through the different products (and see why they’re included) as you build your box.
If you want to know specifically why a particular item is being offered (i.e., what its “flaw” is), you’ll see once you click on the item.
What does that explanation look like in practice?
Well, here’s a photo of various produce we received:
When you join, you’ll see what day(s) Imperfect Foods delivers to your area, and you can choose the best delivery time for you.
Imperfect uses a combination of its own delivery service and third-party carriers like UPS and FedEx.
When the delivery driver is close, you’ll receive a text message. You don’t have to be home to accept the delivery, and drivers will do their best to follow whatever instructions you specify.
Meat, Fish, Eggs and Dairy
There are far more options available today than when I signed up, which was back when Imperfect was exclusively a produce delivery service. This makes it quite enjoyable to get the email that it’s time to customize my box, as I never know what new items I might find.
One of the most significant changes has been the addition of meat, fish and other products that require refrigeration (such as yogurt, butter and cheese). With their recent acquisition by Misfits Market, Imperfect now also offers wine.
The one issue with the meat and seafood is that your box doesn’t come packed in dry ice, which would keep it frozen solid.
The meat and seafood items are packed with a large gel pack in a plastic (#4 recycle) bag, and included in your regular box.
The meat we’ve received has never arrived at an unsafe temperature on delivery day (which would be above 40 degrees Fahrenheit). However, we’ve had times when it’s been delivered totally thawed, times it has arrived in a semi-frozen state, and times it has arrived frozen solid.
This can sometimes mess up meal planning, as thawed meat should be consumed within two to three days and can’t be refrozen.
As for dairy, there are both traditional and vegan options available. My daughter, who has a dairy allergy, has enjoyed the vegan yogurt and butter (which tastes a lot better than the well-known Earth Balance brand).
The first time we received eggs, about 50% were broken. When we mentioned this to customer service, they issued a prompt refund. Fortunately, this issue seems to have been a one-off, as the eggs in all of our subsequent orders have been fully intact.
Note: While my family enjoyed Imperfect Foods’ meats, we’ve started ordering organic, grass-fed meat delivery from Crowd Cow. You can read more about why I love their products in my Crowd Cow review, and learn about other options in my roundup of the best organic meat delivery services.
What Exactly Is “Imperfect” Meat?
If you’re anything like me, one of the first questions that comes to mind is what constitutes “imperfect” meat, seafood and dairy.
Eating a crooked carrot is one thing, but we all want to avoid animal products that might make us sick (or that just taste “off”).
Fortunately, Imperfect Foods does not sell any meat, seafood or dairy products that come anywhere close to being dangerous.
Here are a few examples of how these items are sourced:
- Many products are sourced from direct relationships they’ve built with farms and dairies. They’re the same products you’d find in grocery stores, but with the middleman cut out.
- For beef and poultry products, offerings are usually the result of vendor surplus. In other words, the farmer has more supply than they can sell through their other channels, so they offer it to Imperfect Foods at a discount.
- For fish, Imperfect Foods often gets cuts that aren’t quite the right size and shape for use in commercial environments like restaurants.
Additionally, you’ll be glad to know that…
- Meat is antibiotic free and vegetarian fed.
- Seafood is sustainably farmed or wild caught.
- Eggs are cage free, with pasture-raised and organic eggs available in some locations.
- Dairy is free of artificial hormones.
Imperfect Foods vs. Misfits Market
Imperfect Foods was acquired by Misfits Market, its former main competitor in the irregular produce business. While the companies initially kept their services separate — e.g., separate products, separate pricing, etc. — they’re now close to being nearly identical services. In fact, Imperfect has adopted Misfits’ consumer-facing ordering system.
When the merger first happened, I noticed that the prices on Imperfect were higher than on Misfits, and that they were rising in general. However, since late August 2023, the prices and products are now identical on the two platforms.
So now, there’s really no difference between the two sites other than the URL and branding. I imagine they will eventually merge completely.
Read our Misfits Market review to learn more.
Alternatives to Imperfect Foods
Other alternatives to Imperfect Foods include Amazon Fresh and Thrive Markets. Here’s a rundown of the features and benefits of each company.
|Irregular produce and pantry items.
|Organic and natural products.
|Yes. $59.95 per year or $12 per month.
|Yes (requires Amazon Prime).
|$5.99. Free for orders of $60 or more.
|Free for orders over $49.
|$3.95 to $9.95, depending on order size.
|Their own delivery service or various couriers.
|Their own delivery service.
|Meat and Seafood
|Yes (limited selection)
|Yes (limited selection)
|Dry Goods and Pantry Items
Other options: Anycart is an on-demand grocery delivery platform that lets you choose your items and order them from many major supermarket chains. It also has integrated recipes and meal planning tools that make shopping easy. Hungryroot similarly focuses on meal planning, but has a focus on healthy/natural ingredients.
Am I Doing Harm By Using Imperfect Foods?
I enjoy Imperfect Foods, but I’ve wondered if buying from them takes food away from food banks. This is a common concern among their customers.
Imperfect Foods states that they’re not diverting produce from food banks. More so, they’re supporting farmers by buying their food, instead of having them donate it.
Feeding America, the largest network of food banks in the United States, received 1.47 billion pounds of produce in 2017, with 10% coming from farms. There are still 20 billion pounds of waste yearly, so Imperfect Foods is just addressing part of the problem.
An Atlantic article supports this, citing Kait Bowdler of Philabundance, who says that “imperfect food” startups haven’t impacted the organization’s donations. Some food organizations even work productively with these companies.
However, the situation is more complex. Imperfect Foods sources from both small local farms and larger farms, ranches and dairies. This raises the question of whether using the service might indirectly support environmentally harmful industrial farming.
There’s no simple answer to this.
Despite these concerns, I believe that Imperfect Foods doesn’t take food away from food banks. While addressing food waste is a good short-term solution, long-term change requires reforming the food system to prevent the creation of 119 billion pounds of food waste annually.
Imperfect Foods Review: Final Thoughts
I’ve now stuck with Imperfect Foods since January of 2019, which dates back to their Imperfect Produce days. If I eventually cancel, I will update this post to explain why.
According to their mobile app — which allows you to estimate carbon footprint savings over time — the weekly deliveries we’ve received have saved 2,485 pounds of food, 96,351 gallons of water, and 7,323 tons of CO2e.
I’m glad to be playing a small part in protecting the environment and fighting waste in the food system. And at the end of the day, my family is getting a box of extremely fresh produce, healthy food and other essentials of high quality, delivered to our door for a very good price. That right there is hard to beat.
It’s true that not every avocado, bell pepper or peach we receive meets the grocery industry’s high cosmetic standards, but they taste just as good as what you can find in the store — and often better, thanks to their freshness.
And frankly, most of the items look just fine and would be hard to classify as “ugly produce.”