Sep 4, 2012

Baby Carrots

Ever had a baby carrot? Sure you have... It's a staple in every kid's lunch and presented on every vegetable tray ever put together. But wait... Those aren't actually "baby carrots." True baby carrots are immature version of a full grown carrot. They tend to be sweeter & more tender than full grown carrots. Kinda the veal of the vegetable world.

What you know as baby carrots are more accurately called "baby cut carrots." And their story is pretty fascinating. You see, ugly carrots don't sell well. Carrots that are twisted or curved don't bag up well. So for years, they were discarded, ground up and used as animal feed or fertilizer. As much as 70% of the crop was being thrown out in search of straight, uniformed carrots; the kind that would make Bugs Bunny proud.

Watching all those perfectly good, but misshapen carrots going to waste was driving Mike Yurosek of Newhall, California nuts. He was a carrot farmer and one day he had an idea... He took a batch of the rejects, peeled them and cut them into two inch chunks. He bagged some up and sent it to one of the stores. They called the next day and said that from now on they only wanted the smaller carrots. He bought a used green bean processing machine that cut the carrots to the proper length then used an industrial potato peeler to scrub them down and round them off.

Today almost all the carrots sold are the baby cut variety. What was once thrown out as trash is now a gold mine. The mark-up on the baby carrots is often over 100%.

The lesson here is huge... No one hired Yurosek to develop a new carrot. No one even knew that such a product could exist. The government didn't do it for him. He didn't learn how to do it from someone else. He didn't lay in bed as a child dreaming of shorter carrots.

What other people saw as a problem, he saw as an opportunity. And he didn't wait for someone else to act. He took a risk and it paid off. Big time.

So what about you? What is your baby carrot?

Here's a great article on this story from USA Today...

1 comment:

tbbotts said...

23Wow Todd-
That's pretty cool! I kind of have a baby carrot type of situation only without the payoff. I process my own Pink and Chum salmon to use as halibut bait. The pinks in particular are worth less if you sell them to the cold storage, so I cut them up,put them in a ziplock bag, place a lable on them that says Tom's Halibaits and sell them to the two local stores that carry bait. I suppose I should try to expand my horizons and sell elsewhere, but shipping could be an issue and I'm not sure how much time I want to devote to halibut bait. Anyway, thanks for the article.