"Baby carrots are a good example of how products that would otherwise be discarded find a new purpose. In fact, we use absolutely everything; nothing is wasted," Sander Bos, Sales Manager at the Dutch company vanRijsingencarrotconcepts tells us.
Baby carrots are the brainchild of an American grower who couldn't get his crooked carrots sold. He came up with the idea of cutting off a piece and peeling it nice and round. His customers were impressed, and the rest is history. "What a great idea - he managed to add value to his unwanted crooked carrots."
Everything is used, from tip to tail
Building on this initiative: "squared value" is a vital part of vanRijsingencarrotconcepts' operations these days. "In short, it means we try to value all parts of the carrot, from top to tail, as best we can," explains business manager Ruud Jonker.
"Squared value encompasses our entire mindset, from cultivation to final destination," adds Sander. "It's how vanRijsingencarrotconcepts handles the different carrots types and sizes harvested. It's how we distribute those products across markets, from fresh, canned, frozen, retail, and industrial, to our own ingredient processing. We use all parts of our vegetables and don't accept waste."
Further expanding snack carrots' growth market
"Snack carrots are our core business," says Ruud. "For this, we prefer working with the Imperator variety. It stores well and is available year-round. Plus, it's crunchy with a fresh orange color and sweet flavor. We supply these baby carrots in different sizes and shapes and package them according to customer requirements."
Most of these products go directly or indirectly to supermarkets throughout Europe. Ruud explains that the Dutch market has matured and stabilized. In other European countries, he says, the snack carrots segment is only getting going, and growth is certainly still possible.
Most of their winter crops go toward industrial uses. VanRijsingencarrotconcepts supplies these carrots as a semi-finished product to wholesale and vegetable-cutting companies for processing into salads, vegetable mixes, and meals.
At the time of writing, standard carrot harvesting was in full swing. "A joyous event," says Sander. "It's always a pleasure to work with the first crop's quality. So far, things look good. We grow these carrots in lighter sandy soils. Harvesting is done from June to late December. From January to the end of April, we cultivate them under straw. We offer them mainly unprocessed as whole carrots or peeled or scraped."
The carrot producer recently invested in advanced processing technology for even better returns. This robotized processing method reduced processing waste. "It's another step forward in our efforts to waste absolutely nothing," concludes Sander.