Photo: Just_[von]Bernard (flickr)
The beloved baby carrot hit supermarket shelves about 20 years ago, and according to an article in April’s issue of Fast Company, they’re in need of a makeover.
From Inception To Make Over
Baby carrots were conceived in the 1990s as a way making use of old, gnarly carrots that didn’t meet supermarket requirements for color, shape, and size. Producers peeled off the skin, chopped them into bite-sized portions, and sold them in bags. Ten years later, Americans were eating twice as many carrots.
The popular snack brings in between $600 million and $800 million in revenue each year for Bolthouse and Grimmway Farms, the two largest producers.
But now, a marketing executive is trying to breathe new life into the industry by changing carrots from healthy alternative to snack food.
“Carrots,” says Bolthouse CEO Jeff Dunn, “have fallen prey to governmental and societal sainthood – the more healthy alternatives to fatty snacks are praised, the less people want to eat them. They needed a sexy makeover.”
Move Over, Potato Chips
Carrot vending machines came on the scene in September 2010 when Mason High in Ohio added one to their cafeteria.
Perhaps surprisingly, the carrot vending machine has enjoyed success amongst the students even against its sweet and salty snack competition. Branding, peer incentive and simply the availability of the carrots contribute to the machine’s popularity.
Bells And Whistles
Bolthouse worked with an ad agency to create potato-chip-inspired packaging. They’re filming commercials in the desert, complete with pyrotechnics and loud music. And, the Bolthouse-manned @babycarrots is teetering around 1500 followers on Twitter.
What’s the next step? Perhaps flavored carrots.
“People will say, ‘You open the bag, it’s just baby carrots.’ Well, it’s just Lay’s potato chips, it’s just Doritos, there’s nothing special about them,” Dunn told Fast Company. “They’re just cool and part of your life. If Doritos can sell cheeseburger-flavored Doritos, we can sell baby carrots.”
- How Carrots Became The New Junk Food (Fast Company)