Today Misfits Market, the New York-based company that sells subscription boxes of irregularly-shaped produce, announced that it had raised a $16.5 million Series A funding round (h/t Techcrunch). Greenoaks Capital led the round.
Founded in 2018, Misfits Market sources produce from farms that can’t be sold to grocery stores for some reason: be it because of imperfect shapes, sizing, or just a surplus. Consumers can choose from two box sizes — the smaller The Mischief (10-12 pounds weekly for $23.75, $20 with subscription) or The Madness (18-20 pounds for $42.50, $34 with subscription). The startup currently ships to 11 states. Today it announced expansion plans to move into 8 more, covering most of the East Coast.
So-called “ugly” produce is having a moment. In addition to Misfits Market, companies like Imperfect Produce and Hungry Harvest also sell cosmetically imperfect and surplus produce through subscription boxes at a reduced cost, while Full Harvest serves the B2B side.
Unlike Imperfect Produce, however, Misfits customers can’t choose what’s in their box — it’s based on whatever the company sources from their farm partners that week. While that could be fun for the adventurous eater, it could also result in more home food waste if, say, you receive a ton of parsnips and are a parsnip hater, or simply don’t know how to cook them. Misfits hopes to introduce a customization feature down the road.
The ugly produce movement has also spurred some serious backlash. Crop scientist Sarah Taber wrote a viral Twitter thread which claimed that the food system is actually really good at using irregular and surplus produce, which often ends up going to underprivileged communities or turned into blended foods like salsa. However, that can depend on the size of the farm — smaller producers can have a trickier time finding people to take their misshapen or surplus foods.
That is where Misfits Market can help. Unlike Imperfect Produce and Hungry Harvest, Misfits Market exclusively targets local producers, giving them a platform to sell their goods that they might not normally have had. Misfits market is also trying to democratize who has access to fresh, organic food: the company ships to every zip code in the states in which it operates, not just the wealthier urban ones.
Despite disagreements over how to tackle it, there’s no debating that food waste is an overwhelming problem. And Misfit Market’s $16.5 million funding round shows that investors realize it’s also a juicy opportunity.