Campbell Soup will put digital marketing and e-commerce front-and-centre of its corporate strategy, accelerating its efforts by forming an e-commerce unit for North America.
At its annual investor day, the company revealed plans of generating $300 million in e-commerce sales over the next five years.
It has appointed Shakeel Farooque as vice-president and head of digital and e-commerce, and outlined plans to partner with leading e-commerce companies – such as the recently announced $10 million investment in online meal kit company Chef’d – alongside steps it is taking to create a more flexible distribution system to serve e-commerce channels.
At the time of the Chef’d partnership, Campbell’s chief executive Denise Morrison predicted that “e-commerce will transform the food industry in similar ways to how it transformed entertainment and apparel”, calling it “a game changer for consumers, food makers and retailers alike”.
And Mark Alexander, president of Campbell’s Americas Simple Meals and Beverages division, added today: “We’re investing in digital and e-commerce across the enterprise with a goal of building industry-leading capabilities and relationships that will drive innovation in this space.”
Alexander also revealed how the business will improve upon consumer trust and transparency with the use of a new digital platform.
It has unveiled an agreement with The Sage Project to partner on ‘digital food labels’, which will make information about the calorie content, ingredients and nutrition profiles of Campbell’s products more easily available to consumers.
Campbell’s Well Yes! soups will be the first products to combine The Sage Project’s transparency tools with Campbell’s platforms.
The efforts complement Campbell’s commitment to its ‘real food’ philosophy, with an ongoing investment of $50 million in its core business to make its products meet the changing needs of today’s consumers.
Alexander outlined steps to reinvent the ‘centre store’ with the division’s focus on making real food available to more people. Campbell plans to complete the transition of all soups in the US and Canada to non-Bisphenol A-lined cans for the upcoming soup season and expects to convert to chicken with no antibiotics for all soups in its portfolio by the end of the calendar year.
It comes after the compound BPA was added to the European Chemicals Agency’s list of chemicals of very high concern.
Morrison continued: “In the last six years, we’ve made significant progress activating our purpose – ‘real food that matters for life’s moments’ – and transforming our portfolio toward faster-growing spaces. Our intention has been to move Campbell in the direction of health and wellbeing. We are committed to accelerating those efforts and strive to be the leading health and wellbeing food company because we recognise that real food and healthier food is better for our consumers and better for our business.”
The move is consistent with industry-wide efforts – including from the likes of PepsiCo and General Mills, which in recent times have announced plans to focus on healthier food and drink categories.
It also comes less than a month after Nestlé and Danone separately revealed their strategies for improving consumer trust, with global issues like obesity and climate change leading shoppers to become more demanding and more distrustful of the packaged food industry.
Campbell’s agreed a deal for premium soup maker Pacific Foods earlier in July.
Campbell’s efforts will be heavily dependent on healthier and more premium labels like Bolthouse Farms and Pacific Foods – the premium soup maker, which Campbell’s announced it would acquire for $700 million earlier this month.
Morrison said: “Campbell’s goal to lead in health and wellbeing is attainable, but we will need to redouble our efforts by extending the real food credentials of our current brands and adding more brands that resonate with consumers; improving our rate of innovation; and increasing our distribution capabilities in new channels. Some of this we can build ourselves, but in other instances we will have to leverage external development.”
That will mean more strategic partnerships along the lines of Chef’d, and potentially further acquisitions like the deal for Pacific Foods.
Campbell has approximately $1 billion in annual net sales from fresh products and its portfolio provides nearly 15 billion servings of vegetables and more than 2.4 million tons of whole grains to consumers every year, it said.
High-growth biscuits and bakery
As well as focusing on healthier foods, Campbell’s will also drive its snacking portfolio by focusing on its US Biscuit and Bakery division, as well as its Australian business, after identifying opportunities in the ‘increasingly attractive’ area of snacking.
Campbell’s will also pursue expansion in developing markets.
It anticipates approximately $200 million in extra sales over the next five years, achieved by broadening its snacking business beyond cookies and baked snacks to include soup, mini meals and fresh snacks.
It will put a particular focus on mindful kids’ snacks.
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