Choose Carrots for Flavor, Color, Health

Retailers can use color to break up the display, such as blending carrots with all kinds of greens.

Increasing demand for baby carrots will boost sales.

Originally printed in the February 2024 issue of Produce Business.

With vibrant color, pleasant crunchiness, and tasty sweetness, fresh carrots can perk up a humdrum menu dish, add pizazz to a quick snack, and round out a lunchbox with a fresh treat — and all at a surprisingly low cost.

Plus, the nutritional value of carrots is astounding — just look at the label’s percent of daily value on an ordinary packaged carrot.

Philipp Simon, the lead researcher of the Vegetable Crops Research Unit in Madison, WI, points out in Carrot Facts, “Carrots provide 30% of the vitamin A in the U.S. diet.” Simon reports in Growing the Next-Generation Carrot, “The nutritional value of average carrots in the U.S. today is 45% more nutritious than in the 1970s.”


While the market for carrots had been viewed as consistently stable for generations, fresh-cut innovations have created “baby” carrots and baby-cut carrots. The zeal for convenience has added shapes and shreds, and the foodies’ desire for color has boosted “rainbow” carrots.

Orange carrots dominate the U.S. and world market today, but white, purple, yellow and even red carrots are popular in other countries. U.S. dietary guidelines urge consumption of colorful foods. Simon notes, “The organic market has been particularly interested in the wide range of colors found in carrots.”

Melissa’s/World Variety Produce, Vernon, CA, offers baby carrots year-round. “The most popular ones — organic baby peeled carrots and the baby French carrots — basically take up 80% of Melissa’s baby carrot category,” reports Director of Public Relations Robert Schueller.

The baby-peeled ones can be munched for a healthy snack as well as enhancing a multitude of cooked dishes. Sales of them have increased 12% from the previous year. The French Nantes carrots, bred for sweetness, and picked very young for tenderness, have shown a 6% increase.

Melissa’s baby white/yellow carrots, at 5% growth, have a slightly spicy bite, and an especially crunchy texture. Schueller recommends, “Enjoy these raw for their flavor and crispness.”

Their baby purple carrots saw an 8% increase over the previous year. These are prized for their vibrant color and complex, slightly sweet-tart flavor.

“We also offer baby assorted carrots with baby orange, white/yellow and purple varieties,” Schueller adds. “This package has seen a 15% growth in the last year here, showing the biggest growth in the baby carrots category.”

Grower-shipper BDA/Dorot Farm, Melville, NY, produces a consistent carrot supply year-round in a variety of sizes, and it grows and ships “all over the world,” says Chief Executive Ami Ben-Dror.

Their extensive lineup of package sizes with various carrot weights available includes North America, Europe, the United Arab Emirates and African countries. Rainbow carrots are destined for North American clients, while they and European countries receive both conventional and organic carrots.

With the company’s involvement in the growth process from seeding to shipping, Ben-Dror notes the fully automated harvesting, hydrocooling and optic sorting machines protect quality.

“Shipping directly to customers from the field retains the sweetness and quality taste by avoiding storage,” he adds.

A year-round shipper of California carrots, Kern Ridge Growers LLC, Arvin, CA, consists of four families, each with 50 years of carrot industry experience. Their standard whole carrots and both standard and slim-cut and peeled carrots span a wide range of packaging options. Quality prevails in their proprietary seed choices. Both cut and peeled types are harvested daily to maintain desired texture and flavor.

“The best-selling carrots are always the medium carrots. They are versatile and go great in all recipes.”

— Rob Giragosian, Kern Ridge Growers, Arvin, CA

Kern Ridge Growers’ organic carrots carry the “All Natural” label and are marketed in numerous sizes of standard packs for whole carrots and cut peeled carrots in bulk. Custom and private-label packaging can be obtained as well.

Rob Giragosian, Kern Ridge Growers’ sales manager, reports, “The best-selling carrots are always the medium carrots. They are versatile and go great in all recipes. These come in 1-pound, 2-pound, and 5-pound bags or loose at the grocery store.”

“Since the pandemic, smaller single servings have become more trendy,” Giragosian adds. “This is because it minimizes handling by multiple individuals, and the carrots are prepackaged in a single serving size. I see this continuing as it is very convenient and an easy snack, on the go.”


Sendik’s Food Market, Milwaukee, WI, has 18 supermarkets in the Milwaukee area. Their carrot selections are extensive, with conventional and organic in various types and sizes, including value-added items such as celery and carrot sticks. In addition, their deli complements the freshness with honey-glazed baby carrots and raisins.

Brian Penfield, produce manager, shares his experiences. “Baby carrots are still a drive factor, but packaged and bunched carrots are stepping up. Attention is drawn to the attractive visual color of wet veggies, such as cauliflower and romaine and other green lettuces, to the comparison with the bright orange carrots in the produce department.”

The consumers’ desire for color has boosted sales of rainbow carrots. “Our packaged and bunched rainbow carrots offer significant holiday sales. Customers appreciate their ability to create striking presentations,” says Brian Penfield, produce manager, Sendik’s Food Markets, Milwaukee, WI.

“The baby peeled carrots there call for savory dips, and the baby petite carrots are good-for-you snacks,” Penfield adds.

Produce manager Gus Martinez of the Los Angeles Super A Foods, Commerce, CA, one of the eight stores in southern California, agrees. “Use the color break to display. Blend carrots with all kinds of greens. Kale, even though it’s bitter, it’s healthy and nutritious and our customers make juice with it and the large carrots and beets. That helps sales.”

Schueller says Melissa’s supports retailers with POS materials and recipes. He also recommends sampling and demonstration to bring awareness to new products.

“From what I’ve seen, store placement has a lot to do with movement. Also, some retailers are getting good traction with social media videos that spotlight items,” Kern Ridge’s Giragosian observes.

“At Dorot Farm,” Ben-Dror reports, “partnership with growers — working closely with retailers and growers — helps businesses expand.”

Sparkle Markets, Columbiana, OH, with 16 stores in eastern Ohio and one each in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, blog-posts recipes in tune with their current sale items. “Customers like nice-looking orange carrots that don’t look soft,” says Joe Williams, produce manager in the Cornersburg store near Youngstown. “We stock large carrots at 2 pounds and baby-cut carrots. Everyone likes them. We put the baby ones close to the bagged salads for them to add to salads.”

Penfield also addresses appearance, “Consumers look at the freshness, and associate carrots with health. People then buy, and if the flavor is good, they come back for more.”


“Carrots are a great healthy snack and improve the color and flavor of any dish you are cooking,” Giragosian says. “They are a convenience item and are also a staple in most recipes. In my opinion, carrots sell themselves.”

He says there are factors that will increase or decrease the amount purchased, e.g. the price comparison between 1-, 2- or 5-pound packages. But as a vegetable staple, they can’t be beat. “Carrots are typically one of the lowest priced commodities in the produce section, so if you are trying to stretch the daily/weekly grocery budget, carrots are a good option.”

Penfield agrees. “Carrots are a stable commodity. People think carrots are a basic comfort food, and have memories of their grandmother’s delicious, cooked carrots.”

The U.S. per capita consumption of fresh carrots amounted to approximately 8.4 pounds in 2022.


“Carrot volume is pretty consistent most of the year,” Giragosian reports, “We do see increases around the holidays, but those are normally followed by slower weeks. The summer is typically our slower time of the year and weekly volumes decrease. We try to plant to accommodate the slow-down, which has worked well for us year to year.”

Sparkle Markets’ Williams says carrots sell well year-round. “We sell them all the time. Everyone likes them, and at no particular time of the year.”

“Our packaged and bunched rainbow carrots offer significant holiday sales. Customers appreciate their ability to create striking presentations,” says Penfield.

While traditional carrots enjoy a bigger share, “baby carrots have room to grow,” says Schueller, adding “many trends are begun by foodservice, which has more ‘pop’ than retailing. Our white carrots are more popular in restaurants.”

Ben-Dror agrees, “Restaurants start the trends.”


The Q3 2023 Organic Produce Performance Report by the Organic Produce Network, Monterey, CA, illustrates that carrots saw a 5% year-over-year increase in volume sales. At 59 million pounds, carrots rank third, only behind bananas and berries in the 20-item produce categories. In dollar sales, carrots increased 4.7% to $100 million. “Organic should definitely grow with double digits,” Schueller predicts.

Ben-Dror adds, “Consumers should have the options for organics.”

“Organic movement has been good coming into the new year,” Giragosian reports. “We are selling out on each run and hope to keep that momentum going all year.”


The National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) measure of carrot 2022 production was $1.171 million, 14.7% over 2021. The figures indicate 60% more production than the 2018 $733 million.

The USDA’s December 2023 Vegetable and Pulses Outlook forecasts the per capital availability of carrots to decline from the 8.38 pounds in 2022.

Consumers look at the freshness of carrots in the store. They then buy them, and if the flavor is good, they come back for more.

In their fresh market vegetable summary of prices, the FOB shipping-point price for conventional baby-peeled carrots averaged 68 cents per pound, up 3% from last year. The organic price was 96 cents per pound, a 4% increase. The price for packaged/bunched carrots averaged 23% higher to 52 cents per pound. The organic price was 95 cents per pound, and it averaged 15% higher than the previous year.