We have been reporting for months on how the pandemic is changing our buying behavior. One company at the forefront of this shift is Campbell Soup Co. The food giant reported a 17% jump in sales after the pandemic began. And this week it reported a 12% jump in sales for the last quarter.
This is a company that has been struggling for years. But just because sales increased during the lockdown doesn’t mean the company’s fate is forever reversed.
Campbell’s has a number of well-known brands in its portfolio: kettle potato chips, goldfish crackers, V-8 vegetable juice. And the company says One of the biggest sellers of the last year was this typical home cooked meal – plain old soup.
John Stanton, professor of food marketing at Saint Joseph’s University, has a Campbell tomato soup in his pantry.
“I just can’t make good tomato soup from scratch,” he said with a laugh. “So it’s like the only one I buy.”
Stanton previously consulted with Campbell’s and said soup was a high-margin product for the company. So the pandemic triggered a nice boost in sales.
“I think they should enjoy it because I don’t think it will take forever,” said Stanton.
Campbell’s said it anticipates soup sales will decline as growth has been explosive this year. Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst at Supermarket Guru, said canned foods like Campbell’s were blown off the shelves because people were hoarding staples and buying whatever was available.
“It was the only thing on the shelf, so people bought it, and people’s closets are still full to this day,” Lempert said.
But even if soup sales decline, all of that hoarding could bolster the Campbell brand as a whole. Prasad Vana, assistant professor of business administration at Dartmouth University, said that all of those soup cans and snacks people cram in their cupboards are “really big banners right in their homes.”
Soup has given the brand a boost this year, but Campbell said it will invest more in products we love to eat in good times and bad. This includes cookies, potato chips, and prepackaged broth.