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    Wolfgang Puck Soup's on at Campbell

    Campbell's acquisition of the high profile gourmet brand bolsters both its organic and premium soup offerings.

    Campbell Soup Co. said yesterday it had purchased the Wolfgang Puck soup business from Country Gourmet Foods. Campbell also said it struck a master licensing agreement with Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. for the use of the Wolfgang Puck brand, one of the leading organic brands in the United States, on soup, stock, and broth products in North American retail locations, with an option to extend the brand into other related categories and channels.

    Financial terms of the agreement weren't revealed.

    The acquisition and the trademark licensing agreement illustrate Campbell's commitment to wellness and augment the Camden, N.J.-based manufacturer's offerings in the burgeoning organic and natural soup segment, the company said. Among the organic products the company offers currently y are a number of varieties of tomato juice, V8, Prego pasta sauce, Pace salsa, and Swanson broth.

    "We intend to strengthen and grow our business by pursuing strategic acquisitions and partnerships that complement our focus on our core categories of simple meals, baked snacks, and healthy beverages," said Campbell president and c.e.o. Douglas R. Conant. "As the world's leading soup company, Campbell must expand its role in the organic segment of the market. Combining Wolfgang's brand and reputation with Campbell's distribution and marketing capabilities creates the opportunity for significant growth."

    Rolled out in 1997 and available nationally, Wolfgang Puck offers three main product lines: its original "red label" ready-to-serve soups, organic and natural "green label" ready-to-serve soups, and natural and organic stocks and broths.

    "What makes Wolfgang Puck attractive to Campbell is its association with gourmet, chef-inspired recipes and its strong and growing presence in the organic and natural segment of the market," said Denise Morrison, president, Campbell's North America Soup, sauces and beverages. "In addition to its organic and natural credentials, Wolfgang Puck products are positioned as a high-quality premium brand, with the potential to be extended into premium soup offerings."

    Campbell will operate the Wolfgang Puck business as a distinct brand within the Campbell USA portfolio and leverage its existing distribution capabilities to expand the availability of Wolfgang Puck products. Under Campbell, the Wolfgang Puck brand will have a dedicated integrated business team and be able to draw upon the resources within the Campbell USA business.

    Company spokeswoman Beth Jolly told Progressive Grocer that long-term plans for the Wolfgang Puck brand included working to expand distribution for it within the grocery and mass channels, and developing the brand through the addition of new soup varieties and other products.

    Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc., a privately held corporation, encompasses franchises of casual Wolfgang Puck Bistro and fast-casual Wolfgang Puck Express restaurants, consumer products such as Wolfgang Puck-branded packaged foods and beverages, book publishing, and other licensing and merchandising projects.

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