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Convenient packaging, healthier profiles drive soup sales

BY DSN STAFF

Boosted by convenience and more healthy options, sales of soup have been strong at drug stores. Sales of ready-to-serve wet soup were up over 10 percent for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 12, 2007, according to Information Resources Inc. Sales of condensed wet soups surged ahead nearly 6 percent during the same time period.

Consumers’ desire for more healthful food options is responsible, in part, for the boost in sales. Soup is a heat-and-serve product that gives consumers a convenient way of eating a balanced meal. It’s also an easy way for consumers to get an additional serving of vegetables into their diets.

Much of the growth has been due to introductions with a more healthful profile. A report on the category by Mintel International Group points out that while canned soups have traditionally had high sodium content, new low-sodium products have addressed the issue with reduced-sodium options.

In addition to low-sodium and low-carb products introduced, organic and natural products also have been taking more space on store shelves. The success of Wolfgang Puck’s soup line in 1999 and his brand’s expansion into organic products has opened the door to higher-priced, higher-value soups—a trend that mainstream brands have noticed. Campbells, for example, is highlighting the natural sea salt in its low-sodium Healthy Request Soups in its new campaign for that brand.

In fact, research conducted by Campbell’s revealed that 65 percent of respondents said lower-sodium soups brought them back to buying the Campbell’s brand.

General Mills’ Progresso, the other power brand in the category, has been active in the low-sodium segment, as well. The company launched Progresso Reduced Sodium Soups last year and continues to add line extensions to the successful brand. Two of the newest flavors added to the brand’s lineup are chicken & wild rice and Italian-style wedding.

SOUP: A category for consumers looking for lunch on the run

29 percent of respondents eat lunch at their desk

15 percent of respondents eat lunch in their car*

*Mintel International Group Limited’s “What’s For Lunch” survey

Progresso also recently teamed up with Weight Watchers to launch Progresso Light, a canned soup with a Weight Watchers’ Points value of zero. The soups, which contain 60 calories and 4 grams of fiber, deliver a full serving of vegetables. The new products are being touted as “a whole new option in ready-to-serve soup” because they are the first to gain the trusted Weight Watchers endorsement on the front label.

Healthfulness is only part of soups’ appeal. Convenience also is a key factor. “Soups are really convenient and can be eaten for lunch, a snack or for dinner. So they have multiple uses and are very versatile,” said June Jo, an analyst for The Hartman Group.

Microwavable containers and one-cup portable portions are giving the category an even faster, more convenient profile. A recent study from Mintel reported that before shippable soup and single servings in microwavable bowls, soup was not a realistic option for people eating on the go. These new options make soup easier to handle and widen the category’s appeal for consumers. “Anything manufacturers can do to make soup simpler and faster to prepare will help drive sales,” Mintel’s report stated.

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Cabot Creamery Cooperative has gone Greek for yogurt.

BY Allison Cerra

CABOT, Vt. Cabot has launched and already stocked shelves with its unique recipe for Greek Style yogurt. Its rich taste and thick consistency is a recipe for success, Cabot said. The company, already dubbed “Makers of the World’s Best Cheddar” hopes it will take on a new title as “Makers of the World’s Best Greek Style Yogurt.”

“Our new line of Greek Style Yogurt melts in your mouth—better than ice cream if you want rich, luscious taste,” said Richard Stammer, Cabot Creamery Cooperative’s chief executive officer. “The family farmer-owners of Cabot Creamery Cooperative have produced another world-class product. And, like our award winning cheeses, our Greek Style Yogurt is in a class all by itself. We’re proud of that and we think our customers will agree.”

Available now only at area Publix Super Markets, the retail food chain currently stocks Cabot Greek Style Yogurt in the following six-ounce flavors of peach, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla and tropical fruit. The chain also carries Cabot’s Plain Flavor Greek Style Yogurt in a 32-ounce size.

Yogurt is one of the oldest known foods, dating back more than 4,500 years. Their concentrated nutrients include high levels of calcium, protein, vitamins B6 and B12, and magnesium, all of which promote intestinal health and help cure bacterial infections.

While the health benefits of Cabot Greek Style Yogurt are extensive, this style of yogurt trumps traditional American-style with its cooking advantages.

“Cabot’s Greek Style Yogurt has countless uses as an ingredient in recipes,” said Cabot’s celebrity Chef of Staff, Jon Ashton. “It won’t separate when it is baked and can easily be substituted for cream. Best of all, it can be used in so many wonderful recipes. It’s great with honey and nuts, makes a great smoothie and it makes an amazing chiffon or topping for healthy desserts.”

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Cadbury to spin off U.S. drinks unit

BY Tara Smith

NEW YORK Cadbury Schweppes announced plans today to spin off its U.S. drinks unit, listing the Americas Beverages division on the New York Stock Exchange, according to Bloomberg.

The decision was made after the search for a buyer was derailed by record subprime mortgage defaults in the United States. The unit accounted for 35 percent of Cadbury’s $15.1 billion in 2006 sales and controlled 15 percent of the U.S. soda market with such brands as Dr Pepper, Seven-Up and Snapple. Cadbury said it would cut 470 jobs at Americas Beverages.

The plan allows for Cadbury, the world’s largest candy maker, to focus on its forte—confectionary. Chief Executive Officer Todd Stitzer said on a conference call that confectionary sales rose 10 percent in Europe and U.S. sales increase 14 percent, boosted by sales of Stride gum.

According to a note from Bear Stearns Co., the spinoff is disappointing because investors expected the London-based company to make much as $15 billion from the sale before the subprime crisis.

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