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China: Baby carrot market faces heavy competition

Baby carrots in China are growing in popularity yearly. It is not very common for Chinese people to eat raw vegetables, but they are getting more familiar with it. As Chun Wang from Directa Co.,Ltd. mentions: “China has raised the awareness of the benefits of consuming raw baby carrots, therefore the total consumption increased. Kids like the taste as a snack and their mothers consider it as a nutrient supplement for their children, particular for the eye protection, since Chinese children have the worst rates of myopia in the world. And younger women see it as a healthy snack which is tasty and could help them to lose weight.”

Famous Chinese movie star Cai Wenjing made a videoblog about Bolthouse baby carrots as a healthy snack

Bolthouse freshly selected baby carrots

Directa is the exclusive distributor of US Bolthouse baby carrots in China. Though the baby carrot market in China is quite competitive. Furthermore, with the current trade war between the US and China, it has not become any easier for Directa. “In terms of the total sales, our story is quite dramatic. Before the US-China trade war, our sales had increased between by 50 to 100% on a year on year basis. However, our import rate increased from 13% to 38% and the US to RMB exchange rate increased from 6.3 to 6.98 during the US-China trade war. At the same time, our local competitors instantly rushed to the market with lower prices. Our sales dropped almost 50% on a year on year basis.”

Bolthouse 'carrot meet chili lime’  baby carrots

Bolthouse ‘carrot meet ranch’ baby carrots

Even though it is a tough market for Directa, they do not give up. They are trying to diversify in this market and came up with a special seasoning for their baby carrots. One is called ‘carrot meets chilli & lime’ and the other ‘carrot meets ranch’. They made a special packaging for it, so it is small and easy to consume.

As Chun Wang explains: “There is a seasoning tag on the left corner of each bag. First you need to split the bag a little bit, in order to let the seasoning drop. And that, you can shake the bag to allow the seasoning drop on every baby carrot. It is a genius design. People all feel it is interesting and fun. It brings a smile to people’s faces and gives them a bit of fun when consuming it. In terms of these two flavors, kids love the Ranch flavor more, and young women prefer the chilli & lime more. Children think Ranch is more like a pizza taste, while the young women prefer a strong flavor.”

Bolthouse promotion in subway of China

“Our other strategy in facing the local competition was to introduce the Bolthouse’s FARMS juice product line. Since we stand for the highest class global juice quality, it is sure to attract more attention for our brand. By then, people might recognise Bolthouse FARMS as a strong international food company. Hopefully, it would also help us to win back the baby carrot market share, since we stand for a healthy life-style.”

Another potential option Chun Wang mentions for facing the harsh competition, is negotiating with Bolthouse FARM about local production. “We have the resources to farm the baby carrots locally. If we can do that, our costs would drop significantly. Also, due to the short expiration date limit, such a method could allow us to reach many more cities in China. But this option is up to Bolthouse. We fully respect their concern on this.”

Chun Wang
Directa Co., Ltd.  
Tel.:+86 139 1102 7815