pexels soup

When compared with pre-pandemic sales, the picture is positive

Having been a stockpiling essential in 2020, ambient soup has fallen from grace this year – and brands have been hardest hit.

They’re down £24.2m on a 9.2% slump in volumes. The decline is largely down to the fortunes of the top 10, which have lost a collective total of £23m, as Brits became less focused on packing their  kitchen cupboards with long-life foods. Heinz shed the most, down £15.8m alone.

When compared with pre-pandemic sales, though, the picture is more positive. Heinz, Baxters and the like are still performing better than they were prior to Covid. That’s due to “habits formed of eating soup at home” during lockdowns, says NielsenIQ grocery insight team leader Stephen Bough.

Brands are hoping to capitalise on those habits – and attract new shoppers – via trendy NPD. Take Heinz, which added the Plant Proteinz range in October to tap the plant-based and protein trends.

Baxters has similar designs. Having launched its first plant-based soup in 2020, it expanded the lineup in September with Spiced Red Lentil, Sundried Tomato & Thyme and Thai Yellow Vegetable Curry. “The range has a strong appeal with a less traditional ambient soup shopper, bringing incremental revenue and younger shoppers into the category,” says Baxters marketing communications manager Sarah Knowles.

Fresh soup brands have also been innovating, amid something of a resurgence. The sector is in the red, but that’s entirely driven by own label’s £8m loss – with shoppers favouring “brands perceived as higher quality and healthier that they can trust” says Bough.

It’s good news for the likes of fast-growing brand Soupologie, which added three vitamin D-enriched soups in March, and Tideford Organics, which in July unveiled a wealth of NPD including Comforting Carrot & Ginger Soup as part of a Superfoods lineup.

Marry these health credentials with added convenience and you’re onto a winner. At least, that’s been the case for grab-and-go brand Re:Nourish, which has seen volumes soar 46.6% as workers returned to offices. Last month it landed a £2m investment in its microwaveable portfolio, which shouts about its vitamin and protein content.

Top launch 2021

Plant-rich soup | Leon

Leon soup salads

Leon’s debut in grocery’s fresh soup fixture is bang on trend. This healthy trio of Curried Coconut & Sweet Potato, Pea & Pesto and Roast Tomato & Harissa soups (rsp: £2.25) are vegan, gluten-free, contain fewer than 300 calories per 380g serving, and provide two of the 5 a day. Rolling exclusively into Sainsbury’s in September, the soups were joined by three single-serve salads adapted from Leon’s restaurant menu – in a bid to provide “convenient, plant-rich, work-from-home meals”.

The Grocer’s Top Products Survey 2021: who’s up, who’s down – and our overview of the key trends