Sector Insight: Soups

Covent garden soups
Covent garden soups

LONDON - An inexpensive, satisfying meal whatever the economic climate, soups look well-placed to thrive during the downturn.

From chicken soup's reputed health-boosting properties in Jewish culture to Andy Warhol's iconic Campbell's Soup prints, soup is a dish with near-universal appeal.
For many, it is the ideal simple, comfort food. It has been prey to shifting fashions, but with shoppers now seeking out convenient, healthy and affordable options, it has under-gone a resurgence in popularity.
There has been renewed interest in the sector from manufacturers, who have been extending their ranges as well as developing a focus on more hearty 'meal' soups.
While tins of soup have long been a store-cupboard staple - Heinz alone sells 289m a year in the UK - the introduction of fresh variants has extended this category and added value to it. This premium end of the market often focuses on the proven-ance or seasonality of its ingredients.
More than eight out of 10 adults have eaten soup in the past 12 months, according to TGI, but penetration is falling. It is most likely to be eaten at lunch rather than in the evening.
In 2007 the soup market was worth £462m, according to Mintel, a rise of 4% on 2006. Ambient soup accounts for the biggest section of the market - about 60% - but the chilled varieties have experienced the strongest growth, rising 7% to a value of £111m.
While the increase of upmarket chilled varieties has attracted shoppers not normally drawn to this sector, the shift in preference has hit sales of dried soup. Cup a Soup may have championed the concept of a fast meal for one, but dried-soup sales are in long-term decline, achieving a value of only about £76m last year.
The healthiness of soup naturally depends on the ingredients used, and the rise of GDAs and traffic-light food-labelling systems has brought salt content into sharp focus. The high levels found in some brands have pushed what should otherwise be a healthy choice into the danger zone.
Much of the category's NPD, however, has focused on recipes with lower salt, sugar and fat content, as well as avoiding artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. Baxters relaunched its Healthy Choice range last year with reduced salt and invested in an ad campaign to promote the change.
Heinz leads the sector with a 32% share and dominates ambient sales, but it has expanded its presence, with the launch of the Farmers' Market, Soup of the World and Taste of Home brands last year. Farmers' Market covers both tinned and fresh variants, and the move into the latter category means Heinz is now challenging the dominant New Covent Garden Soup Co, while undercutting its pricing.
Premier Foods has ditched the Campbell's brand in the UK, shifting the focus of its soup activity onto Batchelors. It also owns the Loyd Grossman brand, which includes a range of soup sold in pouches. It extended this format with the launch of chunky ready-to-eat Batchelors Soupfulls last year.
Brands operating in the healthy and diet segments have been doing well. Sales of Weight Watchers from Heinz have risen, and it added four frozen chunky soup meals last October. This year it advertised the range with the strapline 'Lose weight, not taste'.
Soup in the UK is a colder-weather staple and shoppers remain unconvinced of the merits of lighter or cold-serve soups such as gazpacho; 70%
of volume sales are made between September and March.
This market is expected to continue to grow steadily for the next five years, to reach a value of £569m by 2013, according to Mintel. This represents a 3% growth in real terms.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer