Chilled soup brands are hot again. They’re back in volume growth – up 1.9% after a distinct cooling off period last year, when volumes were down 9.6%. And they’re outperformed own label, which is down 1.1%.
Brands have revived sales by investing in formats, advertising and recipes, says Carlos Sanchez, NIQ analytics executive for grocery.
A big winner has been Hain Celestial, which owns top three brands Yorkshire Provender, New Covent Garden and Cully & Sully. All are in volume growth – and none more so than NCG, which is up 8.4%. Hain Celestial chief marketing officer Ruth Snowdon Gough credits the brand’s affordability.
Chilled soup some of the best-selling in supermarkets
“Through focusing on availability and executing a strong promotional plan, we have maintained New Covent Garden prices below the rate of inflation and the category as a whole,” she says.
Similarly, Re:Nourish has benefited from keen pricing to grow volumes 49.6%. In contrast to many rivals, the challenger brand delayed raising prices until September this year. “This strategy has helped maintain our competitive position and customer loyalty while still benefiting from the overall category growth,” says founder & CEO Nicci Clark.
Brands that have seen prices rise faster than the category average of 11.5% have been less fortunate. Tideford Organics, for instance, has seen volumes fall 3.6% while average price per litre has rocketed 18.9%.
Glorious secured a listing after losing Waitrose
However, the brand says it has now upped promotions and is attracting both lapsed and new buyers.
Glorious is also seeing shoots of recovery after a tough 12 months. It’s lost £3.4m after being delisted in September 2022 by Waitrose. Volumes are down 69.2%, but the brand says its has since secured another major listing.
In ambient soup, brands have had a harder time as a whole. “Cheaper own label lines have gained market share, while branded products have lost ground,” according to NIQ’s Sanchez.
Market leader Heinz has been hit particularly hard. Although price hikes have increased value sales 19.7%, volumes have plunged 15.4%. As our Top Launch below shows, the brand has been using social media to help revive interest.
Top Launch 2023
Heinz Classics | Kraft Heinz
When the time came to grow its Classics range, Heinz turned to Facebook to ask users what variants they wanted. The result was the October launch of Broccoli & Stilton, Spicy Parsnip, French Onion and Chicken Broth (rsp: £1.70/400g). “Our fans have been keen to see these flavours brought to supermarket aisles and love adding variety to their meals,” says Heinz meals & insights director Alessandra de Dreuille. It followed the rollout of Creamy Tomato Soup Plant-based at the start of the year.
Face off: Top Products Survey 2023 pits brands vs own-label
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Soup 2023: chilled sales back on the boil