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As the shelf-stable soup category continues to decline — by 2 percent in sales dollars for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 24, 2015, according to Nielsen — manufacturers and retailers are finding new ways to keep shoppers interested.
Among those ways are additional organic options and convenient new delivery systems. Meredith Gremel, VP, corporate affairs and communications at Grand Rapids, Mich.-based SpartanNash, a food distributor and operator of 165 grocery stores, notes that “our Full Circle Organic aseptic broth is selling very well,” although she admits, “It is too early to judge the overall impact of these innovations [on] the total [soup] category.”
Taking a broader view, Gremel adds: “While readyto-serve soup in aseptic packaging is of to a slow start, we anticipate this will be the packaging preference of the future, similar to where we are currently in aseptic broths. The acceptance of soup in a K-cup ofering convenience is in its early stages, with limited customer acceptance. While we have seen declines in condensed soup, we are seeing growth in the broth-based segment due to the healthier perception at the consumer level. We are [also] seeing growing demand for bone broth, driven by the Millennial consumers.”
One leading manufacturer currently tapping into those trends is Campbell Soup Co., whose recent product introductions include Organic Kids Soups available in three aseptic-carton SKUs and Fresh-Brewed Soups, created to be prepared in a Keurig brewer.
The company is also trying to get on the right side of the Force with Special Edition Star Wars Soups featuring intricate die-cut pasta shaped like such classic characters as R2D2, Yoda, Darth Vader, and, available exclusively at Target, Chewbacca and C3PO. None of the soups in this line contains added MSG, artificial flavors or artificial colors.
“We’ve seen consumer shifts in people choosing food that is more ‘real’, organic and locally produced,” observes Jim Sterbenz, SVP U.S. retail sales at Camden, N.J.-based Campbell. “Retailers are seeing the same fundamental consumer shifts in how to make the category more attractive to consumers by better meeting their needs. As a leader in the shelf-stable soup production category, we are working to preserve what people love about our food, while reimaging the brand for a new generation.”
In particular, he notes, the Star Wars and Organic Kids Soups “are part of our commitment to make products which are simpler and fit with changing consumer preferences.”
To reaffirm its connection to consumers, last October the company unveiled its first integrated soup portfolio advertising campaign in more than five years. The Made for Real Real Life campaign “shows how Campbell’s products fit into people’s hectic everyday lives in an authentic, humorous and relatable way,” explains Sterbenz.