The Grocer’s 2017 Top Products Survey, THE definitive guide to the current state of the UK’s grocery industry

Soup is going cold. Volumes are sinking in both fresh and ambient as prices rise and consumer appetite for soup cools.

Hardest hit is ambient. “The wet ambient soup category has been challenging in the past few years, largely driven by reduced engagement from younger consumers,” says Christophe Jauffret, marketing lead for soup at market leader Kraft Heinz, whose ambient lines make up 55.4% of total category value.

Given Heinz’s market share, the fact that its lines have suffered a loss of just £3.4m (1.9%) versus the category’s decline of £12.8m (3.8%) could be seen as a small victory. Yes, this is partly the result of inflation (bestseller Classic is up 0.6% on volumes down 4.8%) but it’s also down to some savvy innovation.

The summer saw the launch of a new Heinz No Added sugar range, which has already racked up £1.6m. Next came our launch of the year, Heinz Soup of the Day (see below), repackaged in cartons, which is worth £2.5m (although some of this value will include the previous canned version of the product).

Premier Foods is taking a similar tack. “We’re modernising the Batchelors brand for young shoppers,” says Premier Foods brand director for quick meals, soups & snacks Mark Alldred, pointing to the High Protein Smokey Spanish Bean Casserole launched in March.

Chilled soup is in value growth, despite a 2.9% fall in volumes. That’s more than 2 million fewer litres of soup, partly the result of retailers simplifying their pricing strategies and stripping out bogof deals, says Nadine Maggi, MD for chilled & frozen at Covent Garden and Cully & Sully owner Hain Daniels.

“As with the rest of the grocery market, promotions will always be relevant for consumers,” says Maggi. “However, the data shows the amount of promotions has reduced year on year with deals down significantly on a 71% penetration in 2014 to around 51% now.”

Prices are also rising as a result of growing distribution for more premium, foodie brands such as Yorkshire Provender and Cully & Sully. Yorkshire launched an Edamame & Avocado Vichyssoise soup, to be served cold, in May. The brand says it was a ‘big hit’.

Maggi adds: “Convenience, taste and flavour are key drivers when purchasing chilled soup, so therefore premium delivers.”


heinz soup cartons

Soup of the Day cartons by Heinz

With its core canned lineup taking a serious hit in the wake of declining appetites for bogstandard ambient soup, Heinz fought back with some innovation in July. Its new Soup of the Day format (£1.39, 400g) is its first ever wet ambient soup range in a carton, and its first soup of any kind in carton format since 2009, responding to a new popularity for the packaging. Added to that are unusual ingredients like spiced pumpkin and fragrant Thai carrot, coupled with that must-have - no added sugar.

The Grocer Top Products Survey 2017: Up!