The little pasta letters in Denise Morrison’s bowl of Campbell’s alphabet soup spell “Innovate.”
“Leadership today is not for the faint of heart, and we are making bold moves here at Campbell,” said Morrison, now two years into her tenure as CEO of Campbell Soup Co. “This is both a challenge and an opportunity.”
Innovation comes in many forms. The company announced several important acquisitions over the past year that will allow it to expand into new categories and international markets: Bolthouse Farms, the carrot and premium juice processor, complements Campbell’s shelf-stable V8 beverages while moving it into the lucrative $12 billion fresh juice category; Plum Organics, a manufacturer of organic baby and toddler food, opens up a whole new growth avenue that parallels its iconic Pepperidge Farm brand; and The Kelsen Group, the international company known best for its Dansk butter cookies, which expands the global footprint of the company’s baked snacks business as well as its position in emerging markets like China.
“These acquisitions give us a trio of growth engines that expand our presence in faster-growing categories, geographies and consumer segments,” Morrison told SN.
The focus on innovation is also apparent in Campbell’s strong Q3, with reported sales growth of 15% and organic sales growth of 4%. The U.S. soup business, helped by a longer winter, delivered its fourth consecutive quarter of growth with a 14% sales increase.
Sales of ready-to-serve soups grew 18%, driven primarily by significant volume gains in Campbell’s Chunky soups while sales of Campbell’s condensed soups increased 11%.
“Overall, our improved third-quarter results reflected strong execution of our strategies, particularly our goal to stabilize and profitably grow our North American soup and simple meals business,” said Morrison.
The improvements in domestic sales of core products came from finding, and leveraging, the right balance of execution, promotion and pricing, according to Morrison.
More innovation is expected as Campbell’s expands its international footprint. For example, the investment community is watching how the company utilizes the extensive global distribution platform gained by the Kelsen buyout.
Campbell’s will need it, too, as it continues to roll out new products with international flair — such as the Roasted Garlic Sweet Korean BBQ with Roasted Ginger and Sesame flavor that’s part of the new Campbell’s Slow Cooker sauce line — and expands into new spaces and segments. Earlier this month Morrison announced the appointment of Carlos Barroso as the new senior vice president of global research and development. He previously led R&D at PepsiCo. His to-do list at Campbell’s will be pretty long.
“In fiscal 2014 which begins this August, we expect to launch more than 200 new products,” Morrison said.
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