Mar 24, 2011 1:36 AM GMT
Kind of an interesting article. (intro dropped in here)
LATE LAST SPRING, Omid Farhang, vice president and creative director at the advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, started hearing a word around the office: "carrots." He didn't think much of it at first. Crispin specializes in lavish, zeitgeisty campaigns for brands such as Burger King and Old Navy. New clients are often assigned code names, to keep them a secret as long as possible. Carrots probably meant a new campaign for Nike or Frito-Lay. Then Farhang heard the brief. "I was like, Wait, carrots is carrots?" he says, laughing.
Bolthouse Farms sells nearly a billion pounds of carrots a year -- the carrots Farhang kept hearing about -- under a number of different brand names and supermarket labels. Only Grimmway Farms, a few minutes down the road in Bakersfield, California, 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, including premium beverages (carrot juice, of course, as well as açai, fruit smoothies, and vanilla chai) and salad dressings.
The company has been around for nearly a century now, but it boomed in the 1990s, with a breakthrough product. A local grower named Mike Yurosek had become frustrated with all the waste in the carrot business. Supermarkets expected carrots to be a particular size, shape, and color. Anything else had to be sold for juice or processing or animal feed, or just thrown away. Yurosek wondered what would happen if he peeled the skin off the gnarly carrots, cut them into pieces, and sold them in bags. He made up a few test batches to show his buyers. One batch, cut into 1-inch bites and peeled round, he called "bunny balls." Another batch, peeled and cut 2 inches long, looked like little baby carrots.