Embracing the misfits

Departments - Consumer Corner

Abhi Ramesh’s Misfits Market takes produce deemed imperfect and sends it directly to consumers' doorsteps.

January 22, 2019

Currently, Misfits Market offers two different box sizes available to ship each week or every other week.
Photo courtesy of Misfits Market

Abhi Ramesh launched Misfits Market this past summer, with its first orders being shipped out in August 2018. Ramesh, the founder and CEO of the business, founded it after working in the food supply chain and logistics.

When in that part of the industry, Ramesh became interested in food distributors and where the supply chain was lacking. One such area was the “vast” amount of inefficiency and waste in that system. That sparked his idea to found Misfits Market, a food delivery service that delivers ugly and imperfect fruits and vegetables.

“Unlike a lot of food entrepreneurs, I didn’t come from the consumer side of the industry,” Ramesh says. “I don’t have a restaurant background. I was looking at the ugly part of the food world.”  

Abhi Ramesh
Photo courtesy of Misfits Market

How Misfits Market came to be

Ramesh got the idea for Misfits Market on an apple-picking trip in Eastern Pennsylvania. While at the orchard, he spoke to the farmer and asked to look at the processing facility. When on the tour, Ramesh saw workers inspecting apples one by one; for every perfect apple they’d find, Ramesh says there would be two or three apples that were deemed imperfect. From there, the “imperfect” apples would be put into storage before the company would attempt to sell them. But the apples would likely be thrown out or composted, according to the farmer.

“I said, ‘That’s crazy,’ because there were 10,000 apples in that bin that someone could purchase from you or eating,” Ramesh says.

According to Ramesh, Misfits Market sources its produce from the same greenhouses and farms that the other produce sold in grocery stores comes from. For months after the apple-picking trip, Ramesh contacted growers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and got them on board with his business idea. And according to Ramesh, there are some customers that find the imperfect produce more interesting because of its imperfections, once they understand that aesthetic issues do not always mean the produce is bad. 

“They find that it has a story behind it,” he says. “There becomes this kind of emotional attachment to the little carrots that are hugging each other, the really weird-shaped potato or the squash that was way too big and too curved to make it onto the grocery store shelves.” 

Different options for consumers 

Currently, Misfits Market offers two different boxes to its customers — the Mischief box that retails for $19 and comes with 10 to 12 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables, and the Madness box that retails for $34 and comes with 18 to 20 pounds of the produce. Boxes could include anything from kale and arugula to cauliflower and potatoes to apples and plums depending on the season. Customers can choose between weekly or every-other week delivery, or request a one-off order (at a higher price) to try out the box. 

“I think the convenience factor is huge,” Ramesh says. “Meal kits showed that.” 

Currently, Misfits Market is available in five states — Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Connecticut — with eventual plans to expand to other regions. Most of the produce comes from farms in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and is available based on the season.

“Nature doesn’t produce everything in perfect symmetry,” Ramesh says. “And what’s not perfect can be really fresh and really tasty.”