Soup boils down to M'm! M'm! Money! at the world's #1 soup maker Campbell Soup. The company's most popular selections among its 90-variety soup portfolio in the US include chicken noodle, tomato, and cream of mushroom. Campbell also makes and markets meal kits, SpaghettiOs canned pasta, Pace picante sauce, V8 beverages, and Pepperidge Farm baked goods (including those popular tiny Goldfish crackers). New products for the soup company include Bolthouse Farms carrots and organic baby foods. Campbell's Australian division produces snack foods, such as the Aussie favorite Arnott's biscuits. The food manufacturer, which sells its products in more than 160 countries, boasts facilities throughout the world.
The New Jersey-based company operates more than 25 manufacturing facilities in the US and abroad. The US is Campbell's largest market, accounting for more than three-quarters of its sales. Australia accounts for 10% of sales, with other countries contributing the rest.
Sales and Marketing
Wal-Mart is Campbell's largest customer, accounting for 19% of sales. The company reported advertising production costs in fiscal 2013 (ended July) of $419 million, compared with $476 million and $449 million in fiscal years 2012 and 2011, respectively.
After several years of flat sales and falling profits, Campbell Soup's sales warmed up a bit in fiscal 2013 (ended July), increasing 4% versus the prior year to top $8 billion. Driving the increase was the acquisition of Bolthouse Farms in mid-2012. To a lesser extent, the company saw growth in its US Simple Meals, and Global Baking and Snacking segments, offset by declines in international sales, and beverages in the US. Revenue from the company's core US soup business increased 5% year over year due to better execution and favorable weather conditions. The purchase of Plum Organics late in the fiscal year, growth in Prego pasta sauces, the launch of Campbell's Skillet Sauces, and growth in Pace Mexican sauces all helped the top line in fiscal 2013.
Net income declined 41% in fiscal 2013 versus the prior year to $458 million due to increasing costs and expenses and a loss from discontinued operations related to the sale of its European simple meals business. 2013 marked the third consecutive year of declining profits for Campbell.
The company is working to boost profits by focusing on three categories worldwide: simple meals, baked snacks, and healthy beverages. To this end, Campbell acquire Denmark-based Kelsen Group A/S to drive its baked snacks business in China from its private equity owners. Campbell is working to increase product innovation and consumer marketing initiatives for products in the Campbell's, Swanson, Pace, Prego, Pepperidge Farm, Goldfish, Arnott's, and V8 lines that fall under the three categories. Currently, the company looks to stabilize and boost the profitability of its North American soup and simple meals businesses. For its healthy beverages unit, it's pursuing fast-growing product segments, such as energy drinks and juices, while also growing this business outside the US. To set up its baked snacks for growth, Campbell is building a 34,000-sq.-ft. innovation center at the Pepperidge Farm headquarters. Funding the initiatives will negatively affect financial performance for that year but help set the stage for future profitability.
Campbell is focused on boosting its presence abroad, including fast-growing markets in Asia and Latin America through acquisitions and strategic alliances, such as joint ventures. With China having one of the world's highest rates of per-capita soup consumption, Campbell has been focusing its efforts on the Guangdong province and Shanghai. Campbell formed a joint venture with its Chinese distribution partner Swire Pacific Limited in 2011 to chase after the commercial soup market. Named Campbell Swire, the venture is controlled by Campbell, which retains a 60% interest, and based in Campbell's Shanghai offices.
Addressing changing consumer tastes, the company has been reducing the salt content of its foods across some of its best-selling brands, including its iconic tomato soup, along with V8, Healthy Request, Chunky, and Goldfish products. Challenged in quality and sales by rival General Mills' Progresso-brand soups, Campbell has enhanced the taste of its products by adding more vegetables to its vegetable soup and making its cream soups creamier.
Mergers, Acquisitions, and Divestments
Campbell is expanding its brand portfolio through acquisitions. The soup giant in August 2013 acquired the Denmark-based baked snack maker Kelsen Group for $325 million. In June 2013 it bought Plum Organics, one of the top brands of organic baby food in the US. The company makes organic foods and snacks for babies, toddlers, and children, a fast-growing premium food category. The Plum purchase, which the company hopes will bring a new generation of consumers to Campbell, follows the company's 2012 purchase of Bolthouse Farms for about $1.55 billion from Madison Dearborn Partners. Bolthouse, known for selling fresh carrots, beverages, and salad dressings, is expected to further fuel Campbell's US beverage division, which has benefited from the rising popularity of the V8 juice brand. Campbell also acquired Ecce Panis, a maker of artisan breads, in 2009; it has since been folded into its Pepperidge Farm operations and has given Campbell entry into the growing higher-margin artisanal bread sector.
Campbell simultaneously has shed non-core lines. In October 2013, the company sold its European simple meals business to the London-based private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for €400 million ($542 million). The sales included four production plants located in France, Sweden, Belgium, and Germany. It did not include recently-acquired Kelsen Group, which will continue its operations in Denmark and the export of its products to countries in Europe and throughout the world.
The descendants of John Dorrance, the inventor of condensed soup and founder of the company, own approximately 42% of Campbell.