Freeman Cebu Business


FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel Abalos - The Freeman

To be blunt about it, had it not been for the internet, the ongoing pandemic must have inflected more damage not only to our economy but to humanity as a whole. More importantly, it also offered us a lot of opportunities. 

Inarguably, the opportunity to “work-from-home” should not have been available. Also, although we are productive in our virtual offices and must have earned something, still, most of us must have starved as home deliveries through ecommerce should not have been made possible.   

Indeed, thanks to ecommerce, we found our ways to survive during this horrible time. Yes, ecommerce has been here for decades already. However, it has evolved and rose exponentially through the years. Thanks to the internet, there are goods and services that are not just delivered on one’s doorsteps but cheaper as well. Some of these are through subscriptions.

Well, for businessmen and professionals, we are already aware that some canned accounting software (like QuickBooks) that were purely sold then have been opened to subscription a few years ago.  The same is true with entertainment. With Netflix, you can watch any movie you want anywhere at your chosen time inexpensively too via subscription.

Historically though, subscription is very popular in publications. Whether it be newspaper, magazine, etc. we used to have daily, weekly or monthly subscriptions. Obviously, because of the need to be updated. It was then unimaginable, however, for goods to be sold via subscription.

In the USA, there are a good number of companies selling via subscription. Naturebox (mostly, snack boxes) is one of them. However, a fast rising start-up in “Misfits Market” stood out. With a catchy tagline, “Always fresh, sometimes normal.”, it is an e-commerce platform that sells or delivers directly to customers “ugly” fruits and vegetables for up to 40% less than supermarket or grocery store prices.  “Ugly” or “misfits” in form, these fruits and vegetables are fresh in substance.

Humbly, it started as a subscription box that allowed customers to buy cheap but “ugly” or “misshapen” produce weekly. These are the kinds of produce that supermarkets or grocery stores will never allow to be displayed on their racks. These are produce that they feel are just too ugly for customers to buy and will just rot on the shelves. 

Sadly, because of these supermarkets and grocery stores’ “discriminating tastes”, farmers then were just leaving some of these deformed fruits and vegetables to rot in their farms or in their compost pits. Well, as fertilizers, not what these edible fruits and vegetables were originally intended for. Consequently, value-wise, these farmers got less.

This is where “Misfits Market” came in. It became a go-between for farmers and consumers.  Thus, the farmers got a reasonable price for their “ugly” produce. More importantly, the consumers paid less for the same fresh and nutritious fruits and vegetables. This business is so good that even the pandemic never slowed them down.  In fact, it is expanding. “Misfits Market” just built a new warehouse in Delanco, New Jersey. This will allow them to double its capacity across the East Coast, the South and into the Midwest. It also announced that it will continue to build their team. Notably, amid this pandemic, it hired 400 workers since March last year.

So impressive, yet, its business model is so simple. First, the company is a “subscription box of sometimes funny-looking fruits and vegetables.” These are those with cosmetic blemishes, with bruises, undersized, oversized or a bit lumpy or deformed. As these are supposed to be thrown away to the compost pit, these healthy produce made their way to the households easily and affordably. Therefore, continuing patronage is assured.

Secondly, the company helps farmers raise their revenue without increasing their farm inputs or yield. Therefore, the supply side is steady and stable.

Finally, its dedication to “break the cycle of food waste by helping delicious food find a good home” never left unnoticed. Current and prospective customers are just so impressed of the company’s direction and sense of social responsibility.

Actually, it is not difficult to replicate. After all, daily servings of fruits and vegetables are always good.

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