Food deserts are areas of the country where residents have little or no access to affordable and healthy foods. Despite COVID-19 accelerating the fight against food insecurity, nearly 20 million Americans still live in these regions. For these people, prospects are slim for major grocers that sell everything you need for cheap — the Walmarts, the Krogers and the like.
Many who live in food deserts don’t have the resources to travel to stores with affordable or nutritious grocery options, so one company has decided to bring the groceries to them. Online grocer Misfits Market has a mission of eliminating food deserts in the U.S., and the company just announced the expansion of its delivery service into Arizona, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oklahoma, bringing its coverage to a total of 43 states plus Washington, D.C.
Groceries for all
Misfits Market capitalizes on food waste to offer groceries at up to 40% off typical store prices. The company works with local farmers, distributors and producers to source produce that would otherwise be discarded and added to the one-third of American produce that never makes it to grocery store shelves. It also coordinates with food brands to take in excess food inventory and works with domestic partners to procure meats and seafood. Those methods lower not only inefficiency, but cost.
“Our goal is to eradicate food deserts in America by 2025 … and we’re just getting started,” Daniel Litwin, vice president for procurement, told Modern Shipper. “To date, we’ve rescued over 170 million pounds of food that would otherwise have gone to waste and delivered it to underserved communities at affordable prices.”
To get affordable groceries delivered to their doorsteps, users make an account on Misfits Market’s platform, load up their shopping carts with a $30 minimum order and check out. The company promises to deliver in two to three days “to every zip code, from urban centers, to suburbs, to rural areas” in the four new states out of its three distribution centers, each of which is optimized by the company’s in-house technology.
“We’ve built a new food value supply system from the ground up, which allows us to be flexible, adaptable and build solutions that tackle the unique challenges of a quickly expanding business in terms of geography, category expansion and the total number of SKUs offered,” Litwin said. “Our food value supply chain and our proprietary technology — which supports our ability to pump out large volumes of shipments to 3PLs without jeopardizing their ability to fulfill deliveries on time — combined with the deep relationships we have with our carrier partners, ensures the reliability and consistency Misfits Market has become known for.”
Not convinced by Litwin’s glowing assessment? Well, investors are. In April, Misfits Market achieved unicorn status with a $200 million Series C funding round that brought its total valuation over the $1 billion mark. Business is booming for the online grocer: It reached 400,000 customers in 2020 and surpassed that figure in the first four months of 2021 alone.
While Misfits Market’s coverage map is impressive, it still hasn’t tapped into the massive California market, indicating that the company has yet to reach its ceiling. According to Litwin, though, its expansion isn’t finished.
“We’ll eye additional expansion through that same lens of expanding food access while eliminating food waste,” he said.