Campbell Soup: When you get home from work on a Wednesday evening, not everyone has got lemongrass, coconut milk, and fresh cilantro to cook with
By Elaine Watson
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Our next stop was at the Camden, NJ, global HQ of Campbell Soup, an $8bn CPG giant with a stable of brands including Goldfish Crackers, Campbell Soup, Prego pasta sauces, V8 veggie juices and packaged fresh foods brand Bolthouse Farms.
We met Maria Gamble, executive chef at Campbell's Culinary & Baking Institute, which works with the firm’s R&D teams to ensure that culinary experts are involved at every stage of the product development process, from concept to launch.
So how has the product development process evolved in the 14 years since she joined the company?
“The process is definitely getting faster and the culinary and product development teams are working together much more closely than ever before,” said Gamble. “We’re also involved right at the beginning at the concept phase.”
There is also much greater emphasis on building cross-functional teams - so chefs, brand managers, food scientists and manufacturing experts are all involved at every stage - she added.
“So for something like a skillet sauce, we’re watching culinary trends and then trying to help you recreate something that you would get at a restaurant at home, where you would cook up some chicken, and then add a sauce.
"People want to cook but when you get home from work on a Wednesday evening, not everyone has got lemongrass, coconut milk, and fresh cilantro ready to cook with.”
While it has struggled to make headway in its core soups and sauces business in recent years, recent acquisition The Kelsen Group has given Campbell Soup access to faster-growing markets in China and Hong Kong, while the 2012 purchase of Bolthouse Farms has given it a strong foothold in the fast-growing packaged fresh food category.
To continue to its expansion into faster growing spaces, Campbell Soup is focused on four things:
Accelerating break-through innovation: 200 new products are being launched this year.
Becoming a leader in packaged fresh foods.
Expanding in faster-growing developing markets in Asia and Latin America.
Increasing product availability, particularly in immediate consumption channels and e-commerce.