Campbell Soup posted a tough quarter as its iconic soup division saw a 9% decline in sales in the U.S. Its Campbell Fresh division, which includes Garden Fresh Gourmet and Bolthouse Farms, was also flat compared to a year ago. The company also faced higher costs during the period due to unfavorable weather for carrots and escalating transportation and logistical expenses following the hurricane season — contributing to its 12th straight quarter of declining sales.
Campbell Soup and other packaged food manufacturers have faced an exodus of consumers fleeing processed foods in favor of more natural, organic and better-for-you items with a list of recognizable ingredients. In response, the New Jersey food company has improved the ingredient content of many of its popular brands. It’s also bulked-up its focus on fresh and organic through purchases of Garden Fresh Gourmet, Bolthouse Farms and Plum Organics. The soup icon extended that push when it announced this summer it would spend $700 million to purchase of natural and organic brand Pacific Foods of Oregon.
But despite efforts to redefine Campbell as more than just a soup maker, the company has struggled to grow its fresh offerings as fast as it initially projected. The fact that Campbell Fresh sales were comparable during the first quarter to a year ago.
Still, Campbell Soup said its fresh division remains a strong part of the company’s future, with the recent period its second-consecutive quarter of sales growth for packaged goods behind Garden Fresh Gourmet and Bolthouse Farms’ salad dressing. The company also has returned its beverage inventory to more normal levels, enabling it to reduce its promotional activity, and a decision to allocate carrots to its customers following bad weather should end next month.
“We continue to expect Campbell Fresh to return to profitable growth this fiscal year,” Morrison told analysts…..