CAMDEN, NJ. — Summer may not be the typical time for soup consumption, but as the last few months have shown, this is not going to be a typical summer.
Many states are reopening their economies, but that hasn’t kept consumers from stocking up on pantry products. In an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer on June 15, Mark Clouse, chief executive officer of Camden, NJ-based Campbell Soup Co., said the pantry loading has extended to its soup products, which traditionally have experienced a sales slowdown in the lead up to summer.
Citing data from Chicago-based Information Resources Inc., Cramer said Campbell Soup’s sales spiked more than 50% during the worst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and have remained elevated in the first few weeks of June. Perhaps most surprising has been the strength of the company’s soup business.
“If you go deeper down that list, you’re going to see some soup numbers that are right around 20%, and that is the first week of June, traditionally, perhaps, not the time where you’re seeing that kind of growth,” Clouse told Cramer during a segment of ‘Mad Money.’ “I think the reality is, even though we may be seeing some recovery and people returning to a little bit more normality. I think the behaviors that were built in the last several months have the real potential to continue to provide a catalyst for improved results. And even if the top lines slow a bit, or the end market results slow a bit, I think the elevated overall demand is going to continue to provide opportunity for a company like ours to continue to connect and meet the needs of consumers.”
Clouse pointed to two reasons why soup has remained a go-to product during the pandemic. First, soup plays an important role in what he described as “quick-scratch cooking.”
“This is taking a couple simple ingredients, putting them together and making a meal that you feel good about serving your family,” he said.
Clouse said Campbell Soup has been well positioned for this trend due to all the work the company put in prior to the COVID-19 pandemic on returning focus to its core business.
The other trend that COVID-19 has brought to the fore is more in-home lunch consumption.
“If you think about the role of soup, whether it’s tomato soup, chicken noodle, as it relates to a quick meal, you can feel better about what you’re getting,” he said. “And even in a moment like this when it’s a little warmer outside, it’s a pretty simple and convenient way to meet more of those in-home needs.”