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Campbell’s to add back sodium to combat soup sales slump

12 commentsBy Caroline Scott-Thomas , 13-Jul-2011

Campbell Soup Company’s CEO-elect Denise Morrison said in an investor meeting on Tuesday that the company would add salt back into its soup formulations in an effort to lift lukewarm sales.

Campbell’s has seen its core soup sales slide in recent years, and Morrison’s presentation had been widely anticipated as hailing the beginning of a new strategic direction for the company. She also warned that adding investment – including about $100m to its marketing budget – could hit profits by up to six percent in the coming year.

Morrison said: "Our central mission and overarching priority is long-term value creation for our shareholders. We believe that the strategic transition we are announcing today will set the stage for a new chapter of profitable net sales growth and sustainable growth in total shareholder returns."

The company said that it will shift from “sodium innovation” to “taste-oriented innovation”. Campbell’s had slashed sodium in its Select Harvest soup range from about 700mg to 800mg per serving to about 480mg. Now, the company intends to raise the sodium levels back up to about 650mg per serving, as Morrison said sodium reduction had gone too far.

Campbell’s will still offer reduced sodium soups, including some in its Select Harvest range, but Morrison said the company intends to give consumers more choice by adding sodium back into many of its soups.

Morrison is a Campbell’s veteran, and was head of the North American soup, sauces and beverage business before becoming chief operating officer in October. She will take over from current CEO Doug Conant on August 1, when he steps down after a decade in the position.

"Implementing our new strategic direction will require substantial investment to fund our new innovation process, accelerate innovation across our portfolio and reinvigorate consumer-focused marketing to expand the equities of important brands," Morrison said in a statement. "Thus, fiscal 2012 will be a year of transition and investment, in which we will build the foundation for a sustainable, profitable growth trajectory in fiscal 2013 and beyond."

12 comments (Comments are now closed)

Comprehension problem

I believe Healthy Request soups will retain their low-sodium content. They are labelled as low-sodium and remain a fantastic choice for low-sodium seekers.

Select Harvest is the "regular" soup line, and their taste for the kid-noodle soups is unpalatable. They taste like hospital pablum, and even the hospital will give you a salt packet to deal with individual taste.

Campbell's is not out to ruin your health, they provided Healthy Request, didn't they, to deal with market desire for the product. They were moving ahead of the Interagency Working Group mandatory "recommendations" (oxymoron) that will mandate the reduction of sodium, because a manufacturer does not turn on a dime, and their voluntary efforts will cost less than government arbitrary deadlines and "guidelines."

It is none of the IWG's beeswax what products the company puts out, and if there is a market demand for no- and low-sodium products they will be created and consumers can buy those. There is an entire section devoted to diabetics, for example, in most larger grocery stores.

Campbell's, Chef Boyardee, etc. trying to get the jump on the irrational but fine-giving bureaucrats should not be blamed when their artificial market collapses. It never existed in the first place, because its needs are already being met by existing products.

I noticed the many dieticians and medical professionals posting here. Just as I would expect a city council to take the fire chief's recommendations for safety, I do not expect the fire chief to be in charge of setting the policy, because he arrives after the fire is set. The city council can see the bigger picture, and balance risk with statistical incidence.

The clients you see who have renal failure are hypertensive. There is an entire population of people who are not sensitive to salt relating to hypertension, and it really is nobody's business but theirs what products they buy. Unlike cigarettes, which damage everyone's lung cells, for example, salt is a problem for many, but not for others. You never see those patients.

Cute shapes of noodles have done nothing to get my four children to finish the tasteless soups that Campbell's did not advertise or label as changed, only the number of mg of salt is indicated, but I had to dig out old cans to notice. I tasted their lunch and gagged. It was awful. Campbell's Soup is an iconic and inexpensive lunch for many people, and it should taste the same as it did when we were kids. What about kids for whom this is their only vegetables? I couldn't understand why the kids were leaving their soups unfinished. It was inedible to them.

Either Campbell's is going to salt it, or I am. If you don't like it and think it's unhealthy, don't buy Select Harvest! Buy Healthy Request or other brands.

I just cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would agree to give away their choice of producing or buying foods with transfats, cholesterol, or salt.

Maybe the same dead bodies they want to put on the side of cigarette packages should be on the posters from the CDC at the children's clinics. Think that will help parents make different choices? What research can you share with them? They have a hard time thinking about soup as the enemy when the ramifications may or may not be felt until 40-odd years down the road.

The path of fascism, suggested by poster S Nitzke, for example, where the state should make manufacturers do things, is the very path that has increased food and medicine costs exponentially. These do-gooder regulations are just beyond the pale. Want to change thinking? Do it through education, but keep your state-control of production to yourselves.

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Posted by winoceros
18 August 2011 | 21h14

Campbell's Healthy Request

I sincerely hope this application will not extend to the Healthy Request line....it is a favorite recommendation for patients' with sodium sensitivity, renal disease, and/or hypertension.

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Posted by Valerie Peters
25 July 2011 | 20h46

SEA SALT IS THE ANSWER

Natural, unrefined sea salt is the best answer to all of our hysteria over too much sodium. The latest scientific research disclaims sodium as the enemy in heart disease - it simply cannot be proven that sodium is guilty, but medicine's conventional wisdom has not caught up to this fact yet. SEA SALT with over 84 vital minerals left intact, offers much more flavor as a result and less sodium per serving. With more flavor enhancement in natural sea salts, you actually need to use even less! The 84 minerals are important to our health too, and even help to control blood pressure! With natural sea salt in our diets, the way Mother Nature intended, we will all be much healthier than the basically dead table salt we have all been using. Try a beautiful salt like Tibetan Rose and see how you like it! Hopefully Campbell will embrace natural unrefined sea salt for their soups- all of them, and will help the public understand its many important benefits- even beyond the flavor! It would be doing everyone a huge favor!

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Posted by Linda Szymanski
15 July 2011 | 20h08

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