Bolthouse Farms gets back to its roots

A year after being purchased from Campbell Soup by a private equity firm led by its former […]

A year after being purchased from Campbell Soup by a private equity firm led by its former CEO, Bolthouse Farms is — quite literally — returning to its roots.

The company started out as a carrot farm more than 100 years ago. Its new line of Bolthouse Farms Wunderoots Carrot Swaps helps put carrots at the center of the plate for any consumer interested in eating less processed plant-based cuisine. The new line includes Carrot Dogs — whole carrots with seasoning and flavors to make them taste like hot dogs or sausages — and kits to cook Carrot Fettuccine and Riced Carrots.

These new products featuring the orange root vegetable come in many varieties. Carrot Dogs, which are sold in 8-packs along with other meat substitutes, come in Classic American-Style, Chorizo-Style and Sweet Italian-Style. Carrot Fettuccine kits include the carrot “noodles,” plus sauces including Marinara, Spicy Thai Basil and Red Coconut Curry. The Riced Carrot kits also include a sauce: Sesame Stir Fry, Green Chile or Yellow Coconut Curry. The fettuccine and Riced Carrot products are sold in the produce section.

Turning vegetables into substitutes for traditional starchy products has been a trend in recent years, but no brands have really focused on carrots. There are only a couple similar options on the market: Green Giant has a frozen carrot noodle product, and a few smaller brands have created riced carrots. As for carrot hot dogs, there are hundreds of recipes online and a few vegan restaurants make them, but there has been no CPG option available until now.

But if any vegetable is ripe to be turned into healthy substitutes, it’s the carrot. According to the Produce Managers’ Association, carrots are the 4th most popular vegetable in the United States, with 60% of all households buying them in 2019. Since carrots are a known and well-liked veggie, there may be less consumer hesitation to try different kinds of products made from them.

Consumers tend to see conventional hot dogs and sausages as some of the most processed foods in the store. And while other plant-based varieties may tout clean labels, many of them are still highly processed. It’s nearly impossible to get a less processed substitute than a carrot dog, which still actually looks like a long, thick carrot.

Bolthouse Farms is smart to use its expertise in the orange root vegetable and make a CPG version of an internet-popular vegan recipe. After all, being a first-mover with a unique veggie-forward product has been known to start a trend among CPG brands.

— Megan Poinski

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