NEW YORK — The Bear Creek soup brand is on the move. B&G Foods plans to expand distribution into the club and drug channels in an effort to grow the business, said Bob Cantwell, president and chief executive officer.
“Bear Creek is a dry soup mix sold in most supermarkets across the country,” Mr. Cantwell said during a presentation at the Stephens Inc. New York Conference on June 2. “It doesn’t have any club business. It really is not in any drug or any of those outlets. It’s a supermarket brand today.
“There’s a lot of upside outside of those outlets, certainly, in clubs. It was a large club business years ago. The former owners pulled it out of clubs because they struggled with making money just because they owned a plant that was inefficient and they had all kinds of issues … We’re working on products for Costco as we speak and we also think it has a huge food service upside, (but) we’re not there yet.”
B&G Foods acquired the Bear Creek business this past April when the company acquired Specialty Brands of America, Inc. for approximately $155 million from American Capital, Ltd., a private equity firm.
“Bear Creek dominates what you call the dry soup category,” Mr. Cantwell said. “It has about 70% share in supermarkets. This is a hearty soup mix. This is not going to be a tomato soup or a clear broth soup. This is typically a hearty meal soup. It is made to feed a family of four plus. You put a little protein in this product and you can feed your family very cheaply.”
B&G Foods already has extended the brand into the single-serve convenience category with the introduction of single-serve cups.
In a presentation this past September, Mr. Cantwell added that B&G Foods also sees room for the Bear Creek brand to grow into such adjacent categories as rice mixes, pasta sides and more.
The company has committed to a year-long social media campaign to promote the Bear Creek brand and introduce it to new consumers.
“We’re going to see how we can move the needle,” Mr. Cantwell said. “But we have some large expectations for Bear Creek on a go-forward basis.”