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Eat ’em like junk food

Did that headline catch your attention? Well, if you live in Syracuse, New York, or Cincinnati, Ohio, you probably know what I’m referring to.

Bolthouse Farms, One of the two biggest carrot growers in California, decided they wanted to make a difference in their sales of baby carrots. And they have just completed marketing tests in those two geographical markets.

Back in 1972, Frieda’s was one of the first companies to market baby carrots to grocery stores. Mike Yurosek, one of the growers my mom worked with, tried peeling and cutting some of his broken or gnarly carrots into bite-sized pieces. (He was looking for a way to reduce the amount of waste in his carrot crop, since retail buyers had such specific size and appearance standards.) He asked Frieda to help him sell them.

Thirty years ago, they thought we were crazy. After all, who was going to buy small carrots, which, by the way, were more expensive?

As it turns out, that single introduction was probably the turning point for the entire industry. According to an article in Fast Company magazine, the decade after baby carrots caught on, “carrot consumption in the United States doubled.”

However, today, after a decade of steady growth, carrots sales have plateaued. How to jump start consumption again?

After much market research — and hiring a former executive from Coca-Cola to run their company — Bolthouse Farms decided the best way to increase their sales and market share, was to market baby carrots like junk food!

They changed the packaging to look like other popular orange snack foods (Doritos and Cheetos). They came up with a catchy tag line: “Eat ‘em like junk food.” And they invested in heavy consumer advertising.

They wanted to get those bags of baby carrots out of the refrigerator drawers. (I fondly call them the “rotting drawers”… where all the fresh produce we buy goes to die. Out of sight, out of mind, unfortunately.)

So what happened in the market tests in Syracuse and Cincinnati? Well, I hear that sales went up 10 to 12%. I think this is fantastic. Check out the Fast Company story, and learn more about Bolthouse Farms and their products on their website:

Could baby carrots take the place of potato chips as the “junk food” of choice? Maybe not. But it’s a great concept that might help a fresh vegetable find a new role in your life. Find your favorite brand of baby carrots and eat ‘em like junk food!


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