Photo from Babe Farms
Carrots already are a popular produce item, ranking No. 4 among vegetables, according to The Packer’s 2018 Fresh Trends consumer research. About 60% of consumers purchased carrots within the past 12 months. Why not capitalize on this popularity by incorporating some of these merchandising tips from carrot industry experts?
Feature specialty options
Baby peeled carrots have become the go-to carrot option, accounting for about 70% of carrot sales. But carrot producers offer a variety of carrot options.
Santa Maria, Calif.-based Babé Farms, for example, grows six different varieties of baby carrots — French (orange), pink, purple, white, yellow and round (Thumbelina), said marketing coordinator Matt Hiltner.
Kern Ridge Growers LLC, Arvin, Calif., offers a 12-ounce microwaveable bag of baby carrots, said account manager Chris Smotherman.
Bakersfield, Calif.-based Grimmway Farms’ product line includes shredded carrots, Carrot Stixx, carrot chips, crinkle cut coins and microwaveable petite carrots.
Wm Bolthouse Farms Inc. in Bakersfield offers premium Matchstix carrots, Premium Sweet Petites and Premium Chips.
Including specialty carrot options in your product mix may help you squeeze more sales out of the category.
Offer serving suggestions
People are looking for unique recipes and serving suggestions they can tout on social media. Offering intriguing ways to use carrots can help you achieve incremental sales.
“Grilling carrots is something I’ve been seeing more and more of,” Hiltner said. “Roasting them has been popular for a while, but grilling allows you to get that golden-brown char that really brings out the flavor.”
Grilled carrots pair nicely with Greek yogurt and mint, and they also can be enjoyed with squash and onions in a tasty vegetable medley, Hiltner said.
Grimmway Farms’ website offers a recipe for Chilled Carrot Cream made by shaking together carrot juice, chilled cream, minced parsley, celery seed and crushed ice.
On its website, Kern Ridge Growers touts Honey Butter Carrots made by microwaving a 12-ounce package of its microwaveable petite carrots with a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of butter. There is also a recipe for mustard glazed carrots and another for carrot bread.
Carrots don’t need to stand on their own.
Cross-merchandising with other products can help move more carrots along with complementary items, like spices and seasoning packs that can be a creative way to inspire home chefs to prepare carrots, said Ande Manos, marketing manager for business development for Babé Farms.
Or consider merchandising carrots with nutmeg, pepper flakes or even honey.
“(Honey) is wonderful drizzled over carrots,” Manos said.
To help shoppers prepare a holiday favorite like glazed carrots, position boxes of brown sugar next to your carrot display and provide recipe cards “that can inspire customers to cook a recipe they know and love,” Hiltner said.
Healthful snacks seem to be stealing market share from chips, cookies and candy, so help your customers turn carrots into something they can munch on in place of sweet and salty snacks by merchandising dressings or dips near your carrot display, Smotherman said.
Consider merchandising complementary options like Urban Accents Asian Curry & Honey seasoning blend near carrots, Manos suggested. Or take advantage of the pickling trend by cross merchandising carrots with HomeBrew one-stop seasoning packets.
“We tested it out,” Manos said. “The pickled baby carrots were delicious.”
Finally, display fun kitchen tools like spiralizers along with carrots and other vegetables to “inspire the at-home chef to ‘food-swap’ traditional pasta with fresh veggie noodles,” she said.
Though most carrots today are shipped without their bushy green tops in order to conserve space and preserve freshness, you can create a farmers market look in your produce department by including carrots with tops still attached.
Oxnard, Calif.-based Boskovich Farms Inc. has been bringing in organically grown and conventional carrots with tops intact – “like the ones Bugs Bunny eats” — “forever,” said sales manager Russ Widerburg.
The carrots are imported from Mexico and sold iced in cartons of two dozen bunches. They’re available from November through April and are especially popular among some eastern Canadian retailers and some U.S. chains, independent stores and wholesalers, Widerburg said.
Grimmway Farms also lists carrots with green tops intact in its Bunny-Luv, Cal-Organic and Grimmway labels.
Babé Farms offers baby bunched French, maroon, pink, purple, round, white, yellow and mixed carrots and large bunched French, pink, purple, white and yellow carrots.
“The tops are edible, and now that the ‘zero-waste’ movement is on trend, creative chefs are finding great ways to utilize carrot tops,” Manos said.
They can be used in pesto, chimichurri, as a garnish with salads or tacos, sautéed with root vegetables and for juicing, she said.
As the organic produce category continues to grow, consider beefing up your selection of organic carrots.
Micaela Colley, program director for Organic Seed Alliance, Port Townsend, Wash., said U.S. organic carrot production reached $88 million dollar sales value in 2016.
Sales of fresh-market carrots, including packaged “baby” and cello types as well as bunched carrot products, accounted for 67% of the organic carrot market.
Organic carrots contributed 10.8% of sales in 2016, which represents a greater percentage of the total market compared with other vegetable crops and over 5% of total organic vegetable sales, Colley said.
“Popularity for nutritional health benefits and ease of fresh raw consumption of carrots, particularly favorable for children, may be a key reason why organic carrots hold a significant portion of the total carrot market,” she said. “In recent years, the organic market has also led the trend of introduction of novel color carrots, including purple, yellow, red and white, growing in popularity as ‘rainbow carrots,’ among chefs and organic grocers.”