Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Link roundup

1. From Fast Company's article about the efforts to market carrots like junk food:

The company has been around for nearly a century now, but it boomed in the 1990s, with a breakthrough product. A local grower named Mike Yurosek had become frustrated with all the waste in the carrot business. Supermarkets expected carrots to be a particular size, shape, and color. Anything else had to be sold for juice or processing or animal feed, or just thrown away. Yurosek wondered what would happen if he peeled the skin off the gnarly carrots, cut them into pieces, and sold them in bags. He made up a few test batches to show his buyers. One batch, cut into 1-inch bites and peeled round, he called "bunny balls." Another batch, peeled and cut 2 inches long, looked like little baby carrots.

Bunny balls never made it. But baby carrots were a hit. They transformed the whole industry. Soon, the big growers in Bakersfield were planting fields with baby carrots in mind, sowing three times more seeds per acre, so the carrots, packed densely together, would grow long and skinny, for the maximum number of 2-inch cuts. Yields and profits climbed. The really big deal, the thing nobody expected, was that baby carrots seemed to make Americans eat more carrots. In the decade after they were introduced, carrot consumption in the United States doubled.

Then a couple of years ago, after a decade of steady growth, Bolthouse's carrot sales went flat. Sales of baby carrots, the company's cash carrot, actually fell, sharply, and stayed down. Nobody knew why. This was a big problem.

...

Dunn put together a series of focus groups and surveys and discovered something interesting. People said they were eating as many carrots as they always had. But the numbers clearly showed they were buying fewer. What people meant, it turned out, was they were as likely as ever to keep carrots in the fridge. When the recession hit, though, they became more likely to buy regular carrots, instead of baby carrots, to save money. But people used to eating baby carrots weren't taking the time to wash and cut the regular ones. And unlike baby carrots, which dry out pretty quickly once a bag is opened, regular carrots keep a long time. So people were buying regular carrots and then not eating them, and not buying more until the carrots they had were finally gone or spoiled.
2. And from an article in the same issue about the business of water:
The water bill at IBM Burlington -- just to get 3.2 million gallons a day into the plant -- is $100,000 a month. The water staff turns plain municipal water into a portfolio of products, depending on whether someone is mixing high-tech chemicals or running air-conditioning chillers. IBM's utility plant creates nine custom varieties of water. Each brand of water costs 4, 5, or 10 times more than the cost of the raw water itself.
3. FYI, if you want to get a hold of the Marvel Universe Cable with baby action figure (possibly the best action figure ever), check out the new Marvel Universe case available at Entertainment Earth. Instead of the last mix, which included several doubles (including two Gladiators), this new set has no doubles, and includes a Thanos.

And speaking of EE, buy 4 Funko items, get a 5th free (Funko makes very cute plush toys you've probably seen all around the net).

UPDATE: You can find the Cable for $25, including shipping, at Amazon.

6 comments:

  1. How likely do you think it'll be to be able to find one of those Cable figures somewhere like Toys R Us?

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  2. Unlikely, unless you get very lucky. The cool figures are in short supply and get grabbed up almost immediately.

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  3. Whoa - great heads up on the EE case.
    Thanks!

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  4. Yeah, it seems like all the single figures are on eBay except for the Cable one.

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  5. You could probably buy two of those Marvel sets and sell one individually by figure to pay for the both of them.

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  6. Sure, people do that with things like the rare Heroclix miniatures, or the sketch card that's guaranteed in a case of cards.

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