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

By Caroline Scott-Thomas, 13-Jul-2011

Related topics: Flavors and colors, Preservatives and acidulants, Suppliers, Sodium reduction

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."