Baby food, baby carrots shake up Campbell’s portfolio

by Monica Watrous
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CAMDEN, N.J. – “A trio of growth engines” is how the Campbell Soup Co. describes its three strategic acquisitions in the past year.

With combined sales of approximately $1 billion, Bolthouse Farms, Plum Organics and the Kelsen Group provide new platforms and opportunities for the company.

“You can see that the direction of Campbell is changing a step at a time,” said Denise Morrison, president and chief executive officer, during an Aug. 29 earnings call with analysts. “We are reshaping our portfolio, which now features 10 powerful brands with sales of more than $100 million each, led by our $2.1 billion Campbell brand. We are building a more diversified portfolio with more growth engines.”

Last August, Campbell completed its $1.55 billion acquisition of Bakersfield, Calif.-based Bolthouse Farms, a leader in the packaged fresh foods category with premium beverages, baby carrots and refrigerated salad dressings.

“Bolthouse Farms has expanded our access to consumers who have a strong interest in fresh foods and health and wellness,” Ms. Morrison said. “The combination of Bolthouse Farms and our iconic V8 franchise has given Campbell a $1.2 billion beverage platform that spans the full range from shelf-stable value offerings and mainstream products in the center of the store to packaged fresh super-premium beverages in the retail perimeter.”

Campbell is leveraging the capabilities of Bolthouse Farms, which produced annual net sales of $756 million, to introduce a new product in the coming year. V8 Harvest represents the V8 brand’s first entry in packaged fresh juices. Additionally, a seasoned baby carrot snack product called ShakeDowns is set to debut under the Bolthouse banner.

“We will continue to launch new Bolthouse Farms products to fuel this robust innovation pipeline,” Ms. Morrison said. “We also have a clear opportunity to expand this brand to new channels and immediate consumption outlets like convenience stores.”

June marked Campbell’s foray into the baby food category with the addition of Plum Organics, an Emeryville, Calif.-based maker of foods and snacks for babies, toddlers and children, for an undisclosed amount.

“Plum Organics gives us a growth platform in the premium organic segment of the $2 billion U.S. baby food category, a segment that grew at an average annual rate of 43% from 2010 to 2012,” Ms. Morrison said. “With the No. 2 share in the organic baby food category, Plum Organics also gives us access to millennial parents for whom organic nutrition is a high priority, and it’s a strategic fit with our $1 billion kid’s platform.”

Expanded distribution of Plum Organics products is planned for fiscal 2014.

Campbell in August closed its acquisition of the Kelsen Group, a Danish producer of baked snacks, including the Kjeldsens and Royal Dansk brands, with annual net sales of $180 million. Financial terms of the transaction were not released.

With brands sold in 85 countries, the addition of Kelsen extends Campbell’s reach into new geographies, including China and Hong Kong, where Kelsen is the market leader in the sweet biscuits category with a third of its sales generated there.

“We see longer-term opportunities to leverage Kelsen’s distribution network to expand our Arnott’s and Pepperidge Farm brands in China and around the world,” Ms. Morrison said.

While acquisition costs weighed on Campbell’s annual earnings, the additions of Plum Organics and Kelsen are predicted to contribute approximately $300 million in sales during fiscal 2014. Driving a dual mandate of strengthening core businesses and expanding into other categories, Campbell expects a promising year ahead.

“Consistent with our strategy, we are investing in core brands like Campbell’s, Pepperidge Farm, Goldfish, Arnott’s, Prego, Swanson, and V8 and new businesses in faster growing spaces like Bolthouse Farms, Plum Organics and Kelsen,” Ms. Morrison said. “All of the actions that we have taken to strengthen our core business and expand into faster growing spaces are reshaping our brand portfolio and shifting our center of gravity for a greater growth trajectory in the long term.”

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