CAMDEN, N.J. — The Campbell Soup Co. has reorganized its business structure with the creation of its Campbell Fresh business unit and is intent on capturing a greater share of sales at the perimeter of supermarkets. The new business unit will combine the assets of the recently acquired Garden Fresh Gourmet business with Bolthouse Farms and Campbell’s portfolio of refrigerated soups.
“We’re focused on driving full force growth to become the go-to resource for packaged fresh innovation throughout the perimeter of the store,” said Jeff Dunn, president of Campbell Fresh. “We’re actively building our brands and capabilities to leverage the shift in consumer demand for ‘better-for-you’ products and to sustain growth in packaged fresh categories over the long term.”
Capabilities the Campbell Fresh business will continue to invest in include high engagement marketing tactics, fresh product innovation and incubation, best-in-class operating and supply chain platforms to support a broader portfolio, and deepened retail relationships, Mr. Dunn said.
The company estimated the value of the packaged fresh market to be approximately $19 billion. To succeed, Mr. Dunn emphasized Campbell Soup will have to develop a nimble go-to-market strategy.
“Innovation is critical to driving growth on the perimeter,” he said during the company’s investor day on July 22. “That said, fresh innovation is different and can be much more complex than the center of the store given short shelf life and less standardization across retailers.
“To move quickly, innovation needs to be flexible and built from the bottom up by partnering with retailers to incubate new ideas. This is why we’re adding capabilities to support more incubation tests, which will drive faster learning, enable us to move quickly with great ideas and ultimately become that go-to-resource with fresh innovation expertise.”
Within the business unit, Bolthouse Farms assets will be focused on growing share within the produce section of supermarkets while Garden Fresh Gourmet personnel and assets will be focused on the deli department. The Bolthouse Farms strategy will be pretty straight forward, with the company expecting to grow distribution of the carrot business, which currently represents 53% of total poundage of carrot sold in the United States, according to the company.
Beverages are also a part of the Bolthouse Farms business, and Mr. Dunn expressed optimism about the company’s competitive position within what he called the ultra-premium segment.
‘(The) ultra-premium segment, which consists of multiple brands, has really grown in the past couple of years,” he said. “Three years ago, it represented about 6% of the category. Today, that’s 16% and it continues to grow.”
He pointed to the company’s introduction of the 1915 beverage brand as an example of Campbell’s ability to respond quickly to emerging trends.
“One of the things about 1915 that we’re really proud of is we developed this brand soup to nuts in less than 12 months in order to take advantage of the emerging cold press trend,” Mr. Dunn said. “1915 was specifically built to meet the expectations of cold press juice consumers. We start with five flavors of high pressure pasteurized products that are organic, cold pressed and non-G.M.O. 1915 plays a clear role in our beverage portfolio, sitting at a price point or two above our current juices, yet at a value price compared to our cold press juice competitors. We have high hopes for this brand as we build a national distribution over the next 12 months.”
Categories represented by the newly-acquired Garden Fresh business include refrigerated soups, salsa, hummus and dips.
“Garden Fresh Gourmet, like Bolthouse Farms, has a great innovation track record and operates in categories that drive on innovation,” Mr. Dunn said. “Garden Fresh Gourmet will be integrated into our existing refrigerated supply chain platform from a manufacturing logistics and distribution standpoint. This is going to drive more efficiency, which will then translate into improved productivity and ultimately expanded margins.
“The refrigerated soup business, which is mostly retailer brand driven today, hinges upon servicing the needs of our retail partners. We’ll continue to do that with excellence while at the same time, accelerate our efforts to develop a more compelling and differentiated branded offering by leveraging the technologies and capabilities as a ‘C-Fresh’ made-to-order supply chain platform. Stay tuned, there's going to be lots more to come on that subject.”
Denise Morrison, president and chief executive officer of the Campbell Soup Co., iterated during her introductory remarks at the investor day meeting that the food and beverage industry is experiencing a sea change in consumer preferences.
“Picture for a moment your own family’s eating patterns,” she said. “From boomers to millennials, consumers are seeking fresher, less processed foods with fewer artificial ingredients.
“We’re seeing a boom in health and well-being. And while those words mean different things to different people, there is no denying the explosion of interest in fresh food because some consumers believe that these foods are healthier. We’re seeing this shift in many of the markets where we do business. This stark realization is critically important for us.”
As a result, Mr. Morrison called the Campbell Fresh business unit “one of Campbell’s most strategic opportunities,” and noted it’s an “extreme makeover” of the company.
“It’s been widely documented that some retailers are changing store configurations and dedicating more space to fresh and organic foods as they go mainstream,” she said. “Campbell is uniquely positioned to provide thought and category leadership and to become the go-to resource in Packaged Fresh for our customers.“Through our new C-Fresh division, we can now bring scale and a more diverse portfolio of Fresh and Packaged Fresh offerings to help customers attract the desirable health conscious shoppers they’re seeking. More than ever before, we believe we can have a much more collaborative and strategic dialog with customers.”