What’s Up Doc? Baby Carrots: Business Transformation with Bite!

The day has finally come. I am writing about baby carrots. In a business context. My mom will never believe it.

But it’s really a great story that continues to unfold thanks to the brilliant business transformation that happened in the carrot farms of central California in the 1990s. Cisco’s Inder Sidhu summarizes the business challenge facing Mike Yurosek, then a carrot farmer in Bakersfield (read Inder’s blog on Forbes.com here):

“…Yurosek thought the traditional way of farming carrots was wrong. What good is producing so many carrots if the majority aren’t relevant to the grocers who sell them or the consumers who buy them?, he wondered. Frustrated, Yurosek–who prided himself on a tendency to “think outside the carrot patch”–decided one day in 1986 to try something new.”

As the story plays out, Inder makes the case for this being an example of “Doing Both” – meaning Yurosek didn’t decide to choose one thing over another, instead he figured out a way to make both priorities his goal.

Click here to watch Inder on WebEx talking about this transformation.

But this isn’t the end of the baby carrot story. Move the clock forward to the present day and according to Fast Company magazine, the drive for market share is heating up:

“Bolthouse Farms sells nearly a billion pounds of carrots a year under a number of different brand names and supermarket labels. Only Grimmway Farms, a few minutes down the road in Bakersfield, sells more, just barely. Together, the two companies control more than 80% of the carrot market in the United States. As produce growers go, they are huge businesses — in Bolthouse’s case, between $600 million and $800 million a year in revenue.

Then a couple of years ago, after a decade of steady growth, Bolthouse’s carrot sales went flat.” – Fast Company.

Harvesting a New Approach to Baby Carrot Marketing

Using the skills of a former Coca-Cola exec, Bolthouse Farms is now working to take baby carrots to the next level. To make it an on-par snack to Doritos and Cheetos. And they are using some marketing ingenuity and business transformation to get it done. With the help of their agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, carrots are taking on the competition:

“Three television spots aired, as well as a web series, Munchies, starring two slacker grocery clerks. @babycarrots began tweeting salvos at snack-food rivals: “Yo, @skittles. Taste our rainbow. Of orange.” “Elves making cookies with their grubby little elf hands … that can’t be sanitary.” Display ads, printed up for supermarkets, presented baby carrots as “the original orange doodle,” and billboards suggested never fear carrots and beer.” – Fast Company.

It’s unclear if carrots will take a bite out of the junk food market (yeah, I said it – I had a bunch of puns but orange you glad I didn’t use them). Time will tell. In the meantime, baby carrots make a great case study illustrating the benefits of business transformation, creativity and “Doing Both.”

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  1. Baby Carrots.. I love them.. I will write an articole about them on my blog. Nice post Jennifer !