In 2015, we founded Imperfect Produce to make an impact on food waste by offering farmers a fair price and better home for their ugly fruits and vegetables. The more food we saved, the more opportunities to recover the food we saw all around us. In 2019, we changed our name to Imperfect Foods in an effort to make bigger changes in our food system. This allowed us to start working with food manufacturers who, like our farm partners, had products that were getting undervalued or wasted by our current food system and its unrealistic demands for perfection.
The food system was failing these producers and their products, just like it was failing the potato growers with heart-shaped potatoes that we originally built our company (and first logo!) around. After tackling the produce aisle, it was time to take on the rest of the grocery store.
Meeting the folks working to grow and distribute grocery essentials like olive oil, rice, nuts, and quinoa made us realize there was more we needed to do to build the type of food system we wanted to see. One of the clearest and best ways was to help market and sell their uniquely “imperfect” products that didn’t fit the mold of what supermarkets wanted to buy. We could use our existing distribution infrastructure and open-minded community of customers to create a long-overdue new market for all sorts of products. This would allow us to reduce waste by creating the same type of compassionate flexibility for packaged food producers that we had built for farmers.
We also heard our customers’ feedback about wanting more grocery essentials—everything from peanut butter to tortilla chips to spices—so we worked with our network of quality producers to create delicious products at an even more delicious price. And with that, our exclusive line of Imperfect products was born.
While not every single item we offer would’ve been tossed away, every item does work to build a better food system. We’ve pledged to only work with partners that support our mission, whether that be through sustainable sourcing and production, fair wage and labor practices, or supporting women- and minority-owned farms and producers.
Here are some of our community’s favorite items they can only be found at Imperfect:
- Blemished almonds: We sell almonds that naturally end up chipped and scratched during the harvesting process. While they taste just as good as flawless-looking almonds and have the same nutritional benefits, retail stores aren’t as keen to buy them.
- Not-quite-tricolor quinoa: Since retailers require quinoa blends to have a particular ratio of black to white to red grains, we buy quinoa that doesn’t meet these specifications since we think that all quinoa should be loved and enjoyed.
- Virgin olive oil: Olives that experience frost during the growing season yield oil that misses the strict requirements to be sold as Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We work with olive growers in California to sell their Virgin Olive Oil, which is a versatile and delicious cooking oil.
- Fruit strings: For every perfectly rectangular piece of fruit leather you see in stores, there are edge pieces of fruit that used to not have a home until we started sourcing them for the ultimate devourable, family-friendly snack.
- Off-cut salmon: While most restaurants and hotels expect all of their salmon fillets to be the exact same size and shape, we buy salmon fillets that are undersized or oddly shaped to help better use the whole fish and offer our customers sustainable salmon at a great price.
- Peaberry coffee: Our coffee helps support small farmers in Colombia by giving them a fair price for undersized and oddly shaped coffee beans that used to go undervalued.
- Pork chops: Our delicious pork chops come from pigs that are vegetarian fed, crate free, non-gmo, antibiotic free, and raised in a certified humane environment.
Keep an eye out for our growing lineup of Imperfect Foods exclusives the next time you’re shopping with us. We particularly recommend our chocolate-covered pretzels, which are so popular it can be hard to keep them in stock! Each order offers you a chance to directly invest in our mission to eliminate food waste and build a better food system for everyone.