Bolthouse Farms Targets Big Growth


As Bolthouse Farms president Jeff Dunn breaks in his role leading the new Packaged Fresh division at Campbell Soup Co., the fresh carrot business remains Bolthouse’s core.

But whether in fresh carrots or elsewhere in the produce aisle or store, value-added is the company’s key to growth.

Dunn and Todd Putman, Bolthouse’s chief commercial officer, see those opportunities as substantial. In an interview with The Packer, they outlined the path ahead.

In January, Campbell Soup — which acquired Bolthouse Farms in 2012 — aligned its fresh, baking and shelf stable businesses in three new divisions. Bolthouse is the flagship for Packaged Fresh, which includes Campbell’s fresh soup business.

“The challenge is really to scale up our fresh business and make it a part of how people see Campbell,” Dunn said. “We’re about $1 billion out of $8 billion in sales for them, but the highest growth. We see a big sightline to try to double our business over five to seven years.”

“A lot of the innovation is focused on categories we’ve been in — carrots, beverage and dressings — but we see potential acquisitions as a way to keep growing our business,” he said.

Much as before, the carrot grower-shipper is opening new business avenues in those established categories.

In April the beverage offering is expanding with the introduction of 1915, a premium line of five organic, cold-pressed juices that Putman calls “fruits and vegetables in a bottle.”

In April, Bolthouse Farms is introducing 1915, a premium line of five organic, cold-pressed juices that chief commercial officer Todd Putman calls “fruits and vegetables in a bottle.” Distribution will be limited initially and build throughout the year.

In foodservice, New York City public schools plan to start serving Bolthouse’s Kids Veggie Snackers — baby carrots with chili and lime or other seasonings — on lunch lines in the fall after a trial in vending machines.

Bolthouse is still weighing where the other shoe — acquisitions — will drop.

“There are a lot of $15 million to $100 million businesses in spaces we find interesting for fresh,” Dunn said. “We see opportunity for continued acquisitions. But we’re trying to be more value-added than straight commodity. These will be businesses that have had success innovating or that we think we can leverage to become more innovative.”

The company sees value-added as broader than bagged salads, fresh-cut and beverage. The fresh soup business — much of it private label in grocery delis — Putman describes as “just another version of produce.”

“If we can get more fruits and vegetables into more mouths more often, that’s how we enter a category,” he said. “We’re very produce-centric, but we think we can move out from produce.”

“What we’re looking at could be deli-facing businesses or potentially, over time, dairy,” Dunn said. “The question is how to put fresh plus convenient together with innovative marketing and packaging, so you can do what bagged salads and beverages have done in creating higher-value products.”

“For a lot of people today, cooking is compiling,” he said. “Businesses like Blue Apron are shipping direct to the consumer with everything pre-cut and ready to cook. Value-added may be less about the packaging than how you put things together to create meals. Retailers are starting to do that.”

For all of its forays in beverage, salad dressing and fresh soup, Bolthouse’s biggest business and its priority remains fresh carrots. Growth possibilities exist there, too.

“The best ways to grow the commodity business are what we’ve partnered with (Produce Marketing Association) on,” said Dunn, a PMA board member and a leader of the Sesame Street Eat Brighter! campaign. “The launches of FNV and Sesame Street drive basic demand for fresh fruits and vegetables using more contemporary marketing and imagery, which the center-of-store guys have taken advantage of for a long time.”

Bolthouse gained fame and notoriety for its own nontraditional marketing, the Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food baby carrot branding campaign launched in 2010. It’s gone but not forgotten.

“That campaign is the grandfather of everything we do today,” Putman said. “It established a corridor for us to think about produce broadly, not just carrots.”

“Because we couldn’t get the broader carrot industry to participate financially, it was a tough thing to make work,” Dunn said. “If you’re spending all of the money to build demand and you’re capturing less than half of the business, the economics are just impossible.”

But insights gleaned from consumers during Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food inspired such ideas as chili and lime seasoned baby carrots.

Dunn, who once presided over The Coca-Cola Co.’s North America and Latin America business, is known for taking marketing cues from junk food and consumer packaged goods. It’s a direction he still favors.

“Absolutely, you can take the same marketing strategies and tactics and apply them to commodities and how the produce aisle is merchandised,” he said. “Don’t over CPG-ize it. You don’t want to make it feel like stack ‘em high, let ‘em fly. But you do want to create excitement, interest and engagement. That can happen a little more in produce than it does today. Retailers are figuring out how to create retail theater.”

“If you’re not marketing to customers and consumers you’re going backwards because everybody else is," Dunn said. “You’re fighting for share of stomach, share of wallet and share of mind ultimately. That’s the best way to build demand.”

A show business approach has limits as a way to move bulk vegetables or fruit, according to Dunn, but the rewards for innovative marketing of fresh produce are too great not to take risks.

“We’re making some progress in building basic demand, but there needs to be a lot more,” he said. “If people just ate what they’re supposed to in daily servings of fruits and vegetables, the industry would be three times bigger than it is today. It’s the biggest single business opportunity I’ve ever seen. The stores would need to be half produce. That’s a pretty compelling vision for what’s possible, but I don’t think we’re going to get there just by telling people to eat their vegetables.”

Can a Campaign for Healthy Food Porn Make Us Eat Better?


Can alluring pictures of healthy foods on social media make you crave roasted carrots and heirloom beets? At least one company seems to think so. According to Bolthouse Farms, maker of baby carrots and juices, 1.7 million pictures of food are posted on the Internet daily, but only a third of them feature fruits or vegetables (we’ll take some of the blame for posting more than our fair share). They want to change that using social media.

Scientists have proven that looking at photos of food makes us want to eat it, so with that in mind, Bolthouse is bringing the full force of social media to bear with the #urwhatupost campaign. It encourages Instagramers and tweeters to post pictures of bright string bean salads, roasted Brussels sprouts, and juicy, ripe berries. They even created the Food Porn Index to track the campaign’s success. The end goal is to make healthy food more appealing and get consumers eating more of it.

We’re all for a viral campaign for healthier eating. But every once in a while we still need a shot of a poutine burger to get us through the day.

Voluptuous Veg: Can Food Porn Seed Lust For Healthy Eating?


Sorry to be so risqué, but beautiful photos of tempting foods can make our mouths water.

Think molten spoonfuls of chocolate, voluptuous layer cake or melted cheese oozing from a perfectly grilled croque monsieur.

We're awash in these types of food porn images. But, by comparison, do pictures of Brussels sprouts or beets get as much love online?

Nope. According to Bolthouse Farms, which markets baby carrots and fresh juices, of the more than 1.7 million food images posted daily, only about one-third are of fruits and vegetables.

As part of a broad campaign aimed at shifting this balance — and increasing the marketing and appeal of fruits and vegetables — Bolthouse Farms is encouraging people to post images of their healthy fare. The #urwhatupost and #foodporn hastags have turned up beautiful images of more nutritious meals.

Thick layers of frosting and splurge sandwiches still outnumber the crunchier, more responsible food photos. Still, this healthy #foodporn looks pretty tasty.

Make Not Bake Finally Comes To A School Near You


Are you a foodie?

If you haven't trained your taste buds to crave only a narrow definition of tasty, and are willing to take forays into the world of undefined flavors, and can convince your kids to come with you on the journey to taste flavors made with good things that infuse the body with lasting goodness, then say this:

"I pledge to be a foodie, adventurous and brave, keep my tastebuds curious, no matter what I crave. Try new exciting foods from the East, West, North and South, keep an open mind, and of course, an open mouth." -- The foodie Pledge from the children's book The Foodie Club.

Last week American children were introduced to a cool new idea -- the UnBake Sale.

The traditional Bake Sale has long been a cornerstone of schools. As early as Pre-K and as late as Senior year in high school when the class field trip needs to be funded, we bake for sale. From early childhood when kids begin to learn the building blocks of their core beliefs, through high school when teens question everything, the one constant message is that promoting and eating sugary snacks for fun is a way of life. But should it be?

In 2014 the CDC announced its most recent findings showing an almost 20 percent obesity rate among American teens. Twelve percent of toddlers aged 2-5 were found to be within the boundaries of obesity, while nearly 70 percent of adults were overweight and more than third obese. Alarmingly, It's about time we scrutinized our snack culture.

"A common myth is that children will outgrow their excess weight. Not true!" says Dr. Adrienne Youdim, formerly with Cedars Sinai Department of Nutrition and now in private practice. "Weight loss is hard. Our bodies have many mechanisms that work to circumvent successful weight loss. So the number one risk factor for becoming an obese adult is being an overweight child."

Still, the bake sale persists, followed by a sugary drink and packaged snack at home before dinner.

Bolthouse Farms, a local vertically integrated farm with a mission to "make fruit and veggie snacking irresistibly fun, one bite at a time", has launched an UnBake Sale initiative and is challenging 100 schools across America to be the first to take the UnBake Sale pledge.

am lucky enough to live in a district where our Elementary school was the first to showcase an UnBake Sale. For an entire week we highlighted healthy eating habits and good food choices for kids, with speakers ranging from Olympic athletes to authors and media personalities on the subject of health. We brought in doctors to tell the kids about calories and food labels, and yes, even obesity. We did fun skits, had a massive Hula Hoop contest, showcased gardening and the joy of growing your own food, and talked about how the longer the shelf life, the shorter yours.

Dr. Kathy Magliato, Cardiothoracic surgeon and pioneering woman in the field of heart health, gave us a two-fer by motivating kids to aim high and imploring them to eat well. She said "unlike cancer, heart disease is preventable and yet it remains the #1 killer of men and women in the US." Prevention, she cautioned, starts at a young age with modeling a healthy lifestyle for our children and talking about heart healthy habits such as eating well and exercising regularly. "It starts here," she said "with education and awareness about risk factors and healthy choices."

Parents agreed. "Making the topic of healthy choices the theme of an entire week at school was a great decision", gushed one mom, while others applauded the roster of guests and the advent of the UnBake Sale which was revealed after school to delighted students lining up at an inviting booth featuring 'fruits and vegetables disguised as snacks'. "As a parent, I understand that it's not enough to tell kids that fruits and veggies are healthy - you have to capture their imagination," says Suzanne Saltzman Ginestro, Chief Marketing Officer at Bolthouse Farms. And that they did. With apples and grapes cobbled together to look like turtles and raspberries and blueberries strung along to look like caterpillars, bananas and strawberries disguised as bunnies, the kids couldn't get enough while the parents couldn't stop smiling. There were no quarrels about, "only one" or the common admonishment of choosing between a cookie or a cupcake. Parents mingled as kids snacked and all contemplated a new way of making, not baking, snacks.

Strawberry Aliens, friends with Green Apple Turtles

School parent and researcher on population health, Dr. Susann Rohwedder, observed that "while many factors have been contributing to the increasing weight among our American population, one important factor is the ready availability of sweets, candy, juices and sodas in our daily lives." In truth, many parents try to teach their children healthy choices at home, but what happens at school is crucial. "This is the place where our children spend a large part of their day and as parents we would like to know that the school environment and the teachers are active partners in teaching children healthy choices," Rohwedder adds.

The UnBake Sale initiative was created in response to the Smart Snacks in Schools standards. These are science-based nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages sold to children at school during the school day. The standards, required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, "will allow schools to offer healthier snack foods to children, while limiting junk food." The USDA's Smart Snacks in Schools took effect in July 2014, and the regulation impacts all food and drink sold during the school day, including bake sales. "We are excited to launch the UnBake Sale initiative to help schools, and parents, reimagine the traditional bake sale," said Saltzman.

And reimagine we did for a week in Southern California, by the shores of the Pacific, where fruit grows ripe under the constant sun and nixing the Bake Sale in favor of the UnBake Sale should just be a natural progression of our evolution as parents.

I for one, hope this catches on.

Bake Sales Are Out, Healthier School Fundraisers Are In


WASHINGTON (AP) — When it comes to school fundraisers, bake sale tables loaded with sugary goodies are out. Fun runs, auctions and sales of healthier treats are in.

Government rules requiring many schools to hold more nutritious fundraisers, along with a trend toward healthier eating in schools, could mean trouble for the long-beloved bake sale. In response, schools are selling everything from fruit to kid-friendly shoelaces.

States can exempt themselves from the rules, so not every school is getting rid of sweet treats. But many schools say they have been successful in ditching the unhealthier models.

In Dallas, physical education teacher Sharon Foster says her school, James Bowie Elementary, stopped selling chocolate bars and started selling Y-Ties — elastic shoelaces that don't have to be tied. Parent Susan Fox Pinkowitz said she helped her children's elementary school, University Park Elementary in Denver, move from a candy-filled annual carnival to a fun run and carnival that offers apples and protein nut bars. She said the new fundraiser brings in as much as $12,000 annually, three or four times the amount raised by the old event.

Not everyone is on board. Missy Latham, a parent in Greenville, South Carolina, says bake sales are a profitable part of the "spirit week" celebrations in her district. "It's kind of absurd that one week a year you couldn't sell something like that without the government mandating that it's OK," Latham said.

The Agriculture Department rules, which kicked in last summer, require all foods sold on school campuses during the school day to meet certain nutrition standards. The rules include fundraisers, if states don't exempt themselves. Fewer than half of states have used the exemptions, according to the National Association of State Boards of Education.

The new rules mean fewer brownies, pizza and doughnuts being sold in hallways to pay for school activities. The idea is to prevent frequent junk-food fundraisers that fill kids up and divert them — and their dollars — from healthier foods in the cafeteria and elsewhere in school.

Kristen Amundson, the association's director, says the group has been asking state boards to give careful thought to whether they need exemptions. "Do you really want a bake sale every day, 180 days a year?" Amundson said. "Maybe, but probably not."

Congress passed the school food standards in 2010, and they are part of a larger government effort championed by first lady Michelle Obama. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said when the bill was passed that he would allow the exemptions for fundraisers, leaving that issue up to the states. The rules say the exemptions should allow "infrequent" fundraisers, but USDA did not define infrequent.

In all, 22 states have created exemptions for fundraisers, according to the state education boards group. Last summer, Georgia decided that each school could have 30 fundraisers a year that don't meet the nutrition standards, and that each of those fundraisers could last at least three days. Officials there said the federal rules were overreach.

In Oklahoma, a group of students from Edmond North High School brought cookies to a meeting with the state school board, where they told officials they make more than $40,000 a year from food sales for their charity drives, according to junior Rachel Funderburk. The board listened and allowed 30 fundraisers per semester per school in the state.

Last week, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said the state would move to exempt fundraisers after she heard that a school couldn't sell snow cones. "The thought that a federal bureaucrat knows better than parents what they can feed their own families is condescending and reprehensible," Douglas said.

The federal rules don't apply to food that is intended to be consumed at home or outside of school — so kids can still sell fundraiser mainstays like frozen pizza, frozen cookie dough and chocolate bars. USDA recently issued a guidance that clarified that sales of treats like Girl Scout Cookies are still allowed, but it encouraged delivering the foods late in the day, when parents can take them home.

In Klamath Falls, Oregon, elementary school principal Tony Swan says most parents are pleased that annual activity-a-thons have replaced chocolate bar sales. Kids had to lug heavy loads of chocolate around, and some kids even ate the product, costing precious dollars.

Companies that sell to schools are adjusting. Krispy Kreme spokeswoman Lafeea Watson says the company is testing sales of other items beyond doughnuts, including vouchers for local stores, coffee and collectibles with the company's insignia.

California-based Bolthouse Farms is advertising its fruit and vegetable snack products by giving some schools money and recipes for healthier fundraisers — including apples made into turtle shapes and skewers of berries made to look like magic wands.

"This gives people a vision of what's possible instead of just fighting these rules," said Jeff Dunn, the company's CEO

Clever Produce Snacks Can Turn A School Bake Sale Into An UnBake Sale


Many a parent has quietly — or not so quietly — bemoaned the school bake sale. There's the baking or the buying, for starters, and then the kids scarf down doughnuts or cupcakes that are not the most healthful snacks..

Now a produce company hopes to turn the school bake sale on its sugary head, replacing it with fruits and vegetables done up like Eric Carle grape-and-tomato caterpillars, strawberry aliens with berry antennae and pepper boats filled with hummus.

New federal nutrition guidelines, including calorie counts and ingredient requirements, on snacks sold at schools have prompted some parents to worry that they won't be able to make the kind of snacks that would help pay for programs that are not funded through taxes. Bolthouse Farms, based in the San Joaquin Valley, came up with the UnBake Sales program in response to those guidelines. Schools can go to for recipes and suggestions about holding their own sales to raise funds.

Selling things at school, of course, is not going away.

"It's an American tradition. The fifth grade needs to go to Sacramento. This is how you raise the money," said Joyce Wong Kup, co-chair of the booster club at Marquez Elementary, a charter school in the Pacific Palisades with about 540 students.

If the reaction by Marquez students last week was any indication, an UnBake Sale can succeed. Kids streaming out of school one day last week made a beeline for a stand offering clever produce snacks — all free for the demonstration.

John Taylor, who meets his grandchildren after school, said he routinely refuses to let them patronize bake sales. But the UnBake Sale? "I would support it. I would probably pay to have it stocked. … If you eliminate anything but the healthy stuff, they will eat something."

Kup's 5-year-old daughter, Luna, chose the apple turtle, which she declared to be yummy. She also said she thinks all her friends will find the UnBake Sale offerings "cool."

"I think it's fantastic. It's really a struggle to get most kids to eat healthier food," said Rachel Burch. Her daughter, 9-year-old Elena Roby, agreed: "I think it's pretty cool because it's better for you."

Bolthouse plans to provide 100 schools around the country with starter kits, hoping to inspire other schools to follow.

Kup said she'd like to see creative fruit and vegetable snacks replace the cupcakes that regularly are brought to classes for birthdays. "How cool would that be?"

Is it Time to Unbake The School Bake Sale?


I can’t even remember the last time I stepped into a bakery.

Creating cakes, cookies, and pies at home always brought me back to my childhood when I baked with my grandmother. Baking with and for my own children helped to fuel their interest in healthy, delicious dishes. These baked goods were regarded as special treats that they understood weren’t meant to replace a meal or be consumed in excessive portion sizes. The challenge for me, however, was putting together a baked good that not only tasted good, but was also good for them.

Unfortunately, when it came to bake sales in their schools, health was never on the menu. Brownies, chocolate chip cookies, candies, and other sugary snacks were the most popular and often the only items offered. Until now.

The Smart Snacks in School guidelines required under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, allows schools to offer healthier snack foods to children, while limiting junk food that is sold during the school day. Within the detailed list of criteria of what can and cannot be sold, standards include foods that are “whole grain-rich” grain products or those that have as the first ingredient a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product, or a protein food. Yet when it comes to fundraisers, you’ll find, “The standards provide a special exemption for infrequent fundraisers that do not meet the nutrition standards.” Moreover, “State agencies may determine the frequency with which fundraising activities take place that allow the sale of food and beverage items” that do not meet those standards. This means that the items sold at these events may be up to the individual state and school specifications.

As parents and those involved in organizing such events, we shouldn’t assume that the only snacks that would attract kids and dollars are those that are laden with sugar, fat, and empty calories or those that resemble the pastries that we grew up eating. (I’ll admit that I was an honorary member of Ring Ding, Yodel, and Twinkie Club but I cancelled that membership long ago; the health cost of the membership were too high!)

The new guidelines could welcome exciting and fun food choices. Fundraisers and bake sales may just need a makeover…or perhaps a bakeover. Even food companies are getting in on the act: Bolthouse Farms, a company that sells fruit and vegetable juices and dressings, launched a Unbake initiative to help schools, parents, and kids put their best food forward through creative snacks highlighting fruits and vegetables along with downloadable tools and do-it-yourself instructions that parents and kids can craft together at home.

Unbaked doesn’t have to mean unliked…you’ll be surprised at how these fun snacks will bring smiles to your kids’ faces while fueling their growing bodies. You can jump on the “unbake” bandwagon at school — and at home! — with these simple tricks:

  • Make smart swaps. If you enjoy baking with your kids try swapping out the less healthy ingredients and replace them with better choices. For example, sub in one part mashed avocado or an equal amount of extra light olive oil for butter in most recipes.

  • Get creative with presentation. Make kabobs including your kids’ favorite fruits or veggies. Dip fruit into vanilla or flavored Greek yogurt or dip veggies into hummus or salsa.

  • Give baked goods a boost. Boost value of baked goods by using whole wheat pastry flour in place of white, all-purpose types. Enhance fiber and protein by adding nuts (if allowed in your school) and seeds.

  • Add water to the menu. If permitted, sell water bottles along with snacks to help kids healthfully hydrate. It’s a great way to make money for your school and a lesson in choosing the best beverage.

  • Get kids involved. Most importantly, include your kids in the process of shopping, cooking, or assembling and presenting snack ideas. The more they are involved, the greater chance they will eat and enjoy their own creations.

What’s your favorite way to makeover school snacks?

Bolthouse CEO Aims To Lead Fresh Produce Revolution


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Grocers Lead Kids To Produce Aisle With Junk Food-Style Marketing


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Trading Cola for Carrots


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Pumped About Pumpkin


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DealFeed: Bolthouse Farms


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Great Foresight: A Carrot Grower’s CEO Fights The Good (Food) Fight


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Matt Bonner Has Serious Baby Carrot Game


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Shopping List: Healthy Food Awards 2013


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Talk of the Town: From The Farm To The Lab To Us


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Protein Plus Gets Shout-Out


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