Campbell Seeks to ‘Accelerate’ Fresh Food Sales

The company is putting its ailing Campbell Fresh business under the umbrella of a new "accelerator unit."
Matthew HellerApril 6, 2018

Campbell’s Soup announced Friday it would create a new “accelerator unit” as it seeks to turn around its money-losing packaged fresh foods business.

The company said the accelerator unit would be part of a new corporate structure designed to better position Campbell’s amid a “rapidly changing food industry landscape.”

Campbell Fresh, the packaged fresh unit, lost $11 million in the latest quarter while sales dropped 1%. It markets Bolthouse Farms refrigerated beverages, Garden Fresh Gourmet salsa, and fresh carrots, among other products.

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“As part of the reorganization, Campbell Fresh will become part of the accelerator unit to realize the growth potential of the packaged fresh category,” the company said in a news release.

Campbell has invested heavily in packaged fresh foods to offset declining sales in its traditional soup business, acquiring Garden Fresh Gourmet in 2015 and Bolthouse Farms in 2012. But in the second quarter, sales of its fresh food products didn’t do much better than the namesake soups.

In January, the company signalled a strategic shift to snack foods by acquiring Snyder’s-Lance for $4.87 billion in its largest acquisition ever.

“The transformative Snyder’s-Lance acquisition served as a catalyst for us to re-examine how to best organize the company for increased emphasis on execution and profitable growth,” CEO Denise Morrison said.

“This strategic reorganization — focused on our core, the integration of recent acquisitions, the Campbell Fresh turnaround and long-term growth — provides the right structure for us to optimize the value of our businesses today, while creating future-oriented capabilities,” she added.

The accelerator unit will also be responsible for long-term innovation, small brand incubation, future consumer experiences, e-commerce, and new distribution models. Campbell said it has begun an external search for a chief acceleration officer to lead the unit.

“The Campbell Fresh team remains focused on returning its [consumer packaged goods] business to profitable growth with an emphasis on innovating the Bolthouse Farms refrigerated beverage portfolio, while increasing health and well-being convenient meals and snacks,” the company said.