Munch all you want

11/02/2012 02:50:00 PM
Susie Cable

Carrots are among the most popular vegetables, and many sales are driven by their popularity as snacking and party-tray items.

Carrots are the fourth top-selling vegetable, just behind tomatoes, potatoes and onions, according to The Packer’s 2012 Fresh Trends. Celso Castillo, produce manager, 24 Hi-Way Thriftway, Independence, Mo., says carrots are popular year-round in his store, where one-pound bags of baby carrots and one-pound cello packs are best sellers.

click image to zoomproduce retailer carrots novemberPamela RiemenschneiderOverall, the carrot category is stable, says Suzanne Ginestro, vice president of marketing, Bolthouse Farms Inc., Bakersfield, Calif. There typically is a jump in baby carrot sales during winter holidays because they are popular items on party trays and as snacks for houseguests.

 

Shaking up snack choices

Bolthouse’s new Baby Carrot ShakeDowns could shake up consumers’ snacking routines if they prove successful in test markets. Instead of reaching for a bag of salsa-flavored chips, you might reach for a bag of fresh carrots with a built-in flavor pack.

“We’re really excited about it,” Ginestro says. “It’s a great evolution of how people already behave with baby carrots — they tend to snack on them most often — with added excitement and fun.”

Each single-serve bag of 2.25 ounces of baby carrots has a separate compartment for one of three dry seasoning flavors: ranch; chili lime; or salsa. To release seasonings onto the carrots before opening the bag, pinch and pull the center of the bag to break open the packet, then shake to distribute the flavor. Then, open the bag and crunch away — like a bag of Doritos, but healthier.

ShakeDowns appeal to all ages, Ginestro says.

“I snack on them at work,” she says. “I have two little kids at home and they go crazy when I bring them home.”

Bolthouse is test-marketing ShakeDowns in Indianapolis Kroger, Meijer, and Wal-Mart stores; in San Antonio H-E-B and Wal-Mart stores; and in Seattle Haggen Food & Pharmacy, Safeway and Wal-Mart stores. Suggested retail price is 99 cents.

Ginestro says Bolthouse’s testing includes displaying ShakeDowns in different parts of the stores to see where they sell best.

Castillo says customers in his store like baby carrots, so he carries one-, two- and three-pound bags of them. There’s been little interest in snack-size packs so far, but he says Baby Carrot ShakeDowns might sell in his store, especially if there’s a manufacturer’s coupon available. Many of his customers are on fixed incomes, so coupons really help sell new items.

 

Cool cuts with carrots

Tristan Simpson, director of marketing, Ready Pac Foods Inc., Irwindale, Calif., says consumers are looking for healthful snacks. She says she expects to see continued development of carrot-based snacks.

“Carrots are a fundamental part of our product offering because everyone loves carrots,” Simpson says.

Ready Pac’s new Cool Cuts Disney-themed line of salads and “mini meals” includes four items containing carrots: Harvest Salad; Taco Salad; Turkey, Crackers & Cheese mini meal; and Veggies, Chicken & Pretzels mini meal. Carrots add color, flavor and texture to Ready Pac’s snacks and salads, Simpson says.

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Colorful carrots

Babé Farms Inc., Santa Maria, Calif., offers seven varieties of bunched gourmet baby carrots: maroon; French; pink; purple; white; yellow; and round. They ship in 12- and 24-count cartons. Prices vary for the carrots, which are packed about eight to 10 per bunch, says Ande Manos, sales and marketing representative. Babé Farms’ baby carrots are different from some others because they are whole, not large carrots that were cut and peeled.

Babé Farms plans to introduce a 16-ounce grab-and-go bag of mixed varieties of baby carrots, Manos says. The mix will vary, according to availability. In September, Manos said she expected the bag to be ready in November.

Colorful Harvest LLC, Salinas, Calif., markets five colors of carrots (red, orange, tangerine, yellow and white) in its Rainbow Crunch Carrots packs. Doug Ranno, chief operating officer and managing member, says strong sales of Rainbow Crunch Carrots spurred Colorful Harvest to expand acreage to ensure good year-round availability. Colorful varieties are gaining acceptance as a regular item in supermarkets throughout the U.S. and Canada, he says.

“Our growth is an indication that more people are realizing that a diversity of colorful carrots enhances the carrot category and leads to incremental sales,” Ranno says. “We are steadily increasing by 25 to 30 percent a year.”

Not all carrots taste alike, nor do they all have the same amount of crunch; some are sweeter or more tender than others, Ranno says. Colorful carrots are fun for kids to eat, so they are a great buy for parents.

“You grab a bag of Rainbow Crunch Carrots with five different colors and watch the buzz of kids having fun choosing the different colors,” Ranno says. “It’s almost like a bag of M&M’s, but healthier.”

Ranno says multi-color packs offer an array of nutritional benefits, including betacarotene in orange and tangerine carrots, lutein in yellow and white carrots, and anthocyanins in red carrots. Rainbow Crunch Carrots’ retail prices are “reasonably close” to traditional carrot prices. Ranno says it’ll cost only pennies more for your customers to enjoy different colors, flavors and crunches.

 

Merchandising carrots

“Get creative and use the color to your advantage,” Manos says.

With the array of carrot colors, you really can create a bright rainbow-like display that’s sure to “wow” shoppers, Manos says. Add colorful ribbons of Rainbow Crunch Carrots as accents in your traditional orange carrot displays, Ranno says.

Castillo says he likes displaying carrots in several places in his produce department so he can capitalize on their bright orange color. One-pound bags of baby carrots may be adjacent to salad ingredients with contrasting colors, including lettuces, radishes and cucumbers. He displays cello packs by citrus fruits, and shredded carrots are next to shredded lettuce and cole slaw mix.

Ginestro says Bolthouse has found that when retailers display all of their carrot SKUs together, they see higher sales as compared to when they display items in various places. A large, well-stocked carrot section attracts shoppers, who can then easily find all the carrot products they need.

When setting up displays, think about ways to remind shoppers to stock up on baby carrots, Ginestro says.

“It’s a staple that people should keep on hand to snack on and to serve when they have people over,” she says.



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