Campbell’s Recipe For Growth, From Soup to Snacks

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Campbell's Soup Well Yes sipping soup

For Campbell Soup Company, transformation can’t come fast enough. Few companies in the consumer packaged foods space have moved as much or as fast as the Campbell Soup Company in recent years. And yet, the company that was a poster child for the traditional food and beverage industry continues to struggle to get ahead of a rapidly changing market.

These days Campbell is all about better-for-you food and beverages—simpler, more nutritious and more convenient foods—as millennial consumers lead the industry’s sea change.

Led by CEO Denise Morrison since 2011, Campbell has made massive efforts to transform its business, including recasting its iconic soup brands in myriad ways; buying better-for-you startups including Bolthouse Farms, Garden Fresh Gourmet, Plum Organics and Pacific Foods, and investing in meal-kit startup Chef’d.

Looking ahead, Campbell’s pending $4.8bn acquisition of Snyder’s-Lance, a leading snack maker, will be the biggest in the company’s history and will transform its business shift toward snacking, which will comprise nearly half of its sales.

“We have been taking steps to transform our portfolio in response to the seismic shifts that are driving monumental change across the food industry,” said Morrison in a presentation at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference this week in Boca Raton, Fla.

“Guided by our purpose, ‘Real food that matters for life’s moments,’ Campbell has undergone a remarkable transformation, evolving from a company that had been largely reliant on soup to a more diversified and dynamic company that anticipates changing consumer behaviors and adapts to the new consumer marketplace.”

While its iconic soup side is steady but not exactly piping hot, one bright spot for its business is beverages, where Campbell owns Bolthouse juices as well as the V8 brand.

Morrison discussed new products coming to grocers’ shelves including, on the soup side, Swanson Crafted, Garden Fresh Gourmet Soups and, addressing the better-for-you wellness market, new products from Plum Organics and 19 new beverage SKUs this year, compared with just three SKUs a year ago.

Watch for the new Bolthouse Farms B line, which consists of eight varieties such as B Strong and B Balanced. Campbell also will introduce three new protein varieties of 1915 plant-protein milk by Bolthouse. V8 will also look dramatically different (and fruitier), with V8 Hydrate launching this year.

Campbell 2018 new soup products

Campbell Soup Company - 2018 new food products and innovation

“The headwinds in the super-premium juice segment are multi-faceted,” Morrison told analysts, including consumer resistance to sugary beverages and their interest in “functional beverages that deliver benefits such as protein, gut health, energy and hydration.”

To address this, she said, “We’re launching our most robust beverage-innovation line in two years” which is “designed to address the sugar issue and evolve our beverage portfolio to be in step with consumer preferences.

The company likely won’t make any other big acquisitions “for a while. We still keep our eye on the pipeline but we’re going to focus for the immediate future on execution and making sure we integrate” Snyder’s-Lance.

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