Fresh Food

Will 'Ugly' Fruits and Vegetables Sell on Subscription?

Imperfect Produce tries weekly deliveries

The Lempert Report

Imperfect Produce sells "ugly" fruits and vegetables by subscription. The cost ranges from $11 to $43 per box. About 20% of fruits and veggies grown in the U.S. don’t fit the cosmetic standards for retail, according to Imperfect Produce. As we have seen, grocery stores have jumped on the ugly produce bandwagon, mostly by pointing out ugly produce on its shelves and encouraging customers to buy it.

At Imperfect Produce, the imperfections vary. It might be a wonky shaped tomato, a too-small lemon or fruit with scars, reports The Fresno Bee newspaper.

The company delivers weekly boxes of fruit and vegetables and employs its own drivers. Customers can choose from organic or conventionally grown produce, pick the size of box they want (from a small box for one to two people, to an extra-large box for six to 10 people).

They can choose an all veggie box, an all fruit box or a mix of both. Each week, customers can pick and choose what they want in their box. Imperfect Produce gets its fruit and veggies from 200 farmers around the country. Much of it comes from California.

A piece in Food & Wine pointed out that the produce may have otherwise been donated to food banks. Imperfect Produce says that doesn’t happen, as they come into play after food banks get their supplies. Other critics have said programs such as Imperfect Produce encourage overproduction and wastefulness by giving farmers a financial incentive to grow too much food.

The company is growing. It’s now operating in about two dozen cities nationwide, many on the East Coast, along with California, Portland and Seattle.


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