Misfits Market is trying to end the cycle of food waste by saving “ugly” food from the trash heap. As its website succinctly puts it, “We take in the high-quality food that grocery stores would rather let go to waste. Then, we find everything a good home. Your home.”
According to the online grocer, if you shop with Misfits you can cut your grocery bill by up to $1200 while doing your part to save the planet.
If you’re used to walking into a supermarket with tens of thousands of choices and adding any eye-catching product to your cart, know that your choices will be more limited here. Misfits says that it has more than 500 grocery items. As someone used to vast choices, I find myself thinking what, only more than 500?!
The grocery biz has changed vastly just in the last few decades. As Michael Ruhlman, author of Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America told Market Watch in a 2017 interview, “We’ve never had more food or greater diversity — we’ve never had more harmful food, and never had everything in such abundance. There used to be, as late as the 1990s, 7,000 items in a grocery store, and now it’s 40,000 to 50,000.”
It’s a funny thing to wrap your head around, the difference between more than 500 carefully selected products versus 50,000. If the store is offering the food you want, more than 500 products should be plenty.
So what does Misfits sell?
Misfits Market features all the same categories as your standard grocery, such as organic produce, seafood, meats, plant-based proteins, pantry staples and dairy products, with a focus on those that would otherwise go to waste. The company works directly with farmers and food producers and passes discounts of up to 40% on to the consumer.
The landing page of Misfits’ website shows some current deals. At press time, these products include fresh mozzarella, organic nectarines, pasture-raised meat and Lesser Evil popcorn, ranging from 17% to 40% off regular prices.
Most of Misfits’ produce is certified organic and non-GMO. They also offer more affordable, non-organic produce. Food comes from both U.S. and international farmers. For pantry staples, Misfits takes in excess inventory from food brands, including short-dated items with impending best-by dates.
The list of food and farmer partners is always evolving. You can see Misfits’ current list of produce and their country of origin here. At press time, most of the fruits and vegetables were U.S.-grown, with a few coming from Mexico or South America.
Sign me up!
Want to sign up? It takes a certain amount of commitment because you have to submit your zip code and email and agree to receiving marketing emails before you can see what’s on offer in your area. Once you do that, you can check out those more than 500 products and see what deals are on this week. Then you start filling up your virtual shopping cart. Or, curiously, Misfits promises to “Let us do the work for you with our curated picks.” This could work well for open-minded eaters.
Shoppers choose a weekly plan. There’s a three-day shopping window where you can choose that week’s items. But Misfits gets things going for you. “We’ll start your cart based on your likes and dislikes,” the website promises. “You can change as much or as little as you like.” Over time, the AI grocer gets to know you. “Your weekly curated cart will start with our most popular items and get more personalized with every order. We’ll learn about what you like and dislike and build orders just for you.”
Is this super convenient? A little creepy? I guess it’s already happening, judging on how many coupons I get for vegan ice cream with my regular supermarket receipts.
At the end of the week, Misfits automatically checks out your order, as long as your minimum is met. Then the company delivers your groceries to your doorstep. You can skip a week or change your delivery day as needed.
If you live in the U.S., there’s a pretty good chance Misfits delivers to your zip code. So far, the company serves all 48 lower U.S. states. If you live in Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico, you’ll need to continue shopping elsewhere, at least for now.
Changing grocery habits
Contemplating Misfits Market got me nerding out on shopping stats and people’s changing relationship to grocers. A recent Drive Research study of 1100 shoppers found that people spend an average of $155.62 on each of their average eight-per-month grocery store trips. Most people shop at a physical grocery store (69%) while only 16% get their groceries delivered. I’m not sure about that other 15%, maybe they’re on a diet or have servants. In case you haven’t noticed, Saturday is the busiest grocery shopping day.
While these stats are interesting, the food waste data is alarming. According to the Drive Research study, some grocery chains throw out 30% of their items! Often this is due to over-ordering. Sixteen billion pounds of food waste originates from U.S. retail locations annually. And each household throws away about $1600 per year in produce alone. Let’s hope that Misfits and other innovators can help reverse this trend.
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