CAMDEN, N.J. — The Campbell Soup Co. is working to get its Fresh business unit on track. Comprised of Bolthouse Farms, the company’s portfolio of refrigerated soups and the recently acquired Garden Fresh Gourmet business, the company’s goal is for the division to become the go-to resource for packaged fresh innovation throughout retail.
During the first quarter of fiscal 2016, ended Nov. 1, Campbell Fresh sales rose 8% to $249 million. But when the impact of the Garden Fresh acquisition is excluded, sales fell 3% when compared to segment sales during the same period of the previous year, to $223 million, reflecting declines in carrot ingredients, fresh carrots and refrigerated soups, according to the company.
|Denise Morrison, c.e.o. of Campbell|
“Let’s take a closer look at what drove the decline,” said Denise Morrison, chief executive officer, during a conference call with financial analysts on Nov. 24. “In Bolthouse Farms, we delivered mid single-digit sales growth in the C.P.G. (consumer packaged goods) business behind premium beverages and refrigerated salad dressings, as we cycled double-digit growth in the prior year. However, these gains were more than offset by declines in our Farms business, which includes our fresh retail carrots business where we’re the market leader, and our ingredients business.”
The main culprit of the sales decline was the ingredients business, Ms. Morrison said.
“The carrot concentrate business began softening last year due to weak demand in Japan,” she said. “That softness accelerated in the first quarter. We expect the rate of decline in ingredients to moderate, especially in the back half of the year.”
Ms. Morrison said she expects Fresh sales to grow during the year due to recent product launches and the integration of Garden Fresh.
“We expect sales in our package fresh C.P.G. business to accelerate as the year progresses, driven by the continued expansion of 1915, our cold-pressed ultra-premium juice line, and the strong spring innovation suite for super premium beverages and salad dressings,” she said.