Heinz's hot new trio takes soups by storm

Heinz's latest batch of soups came into their own this year. Farmers' Market, Taste of Home and Soups of the World, launched in the middle of last year, have stormed up through the rankings.

Farmers' Market even managed to defy the negative publicity generated by the revelation its ingredients were sourced from "the UK and other countries" rather than locally, to become the seventh best-selling soup in the UK, with £11.4m sales. Last year it ranked 31st.

Heinz Taste of Home's £6.6m sales takes it from 35th to 12th in the rankings, while Soups of the World has rocketed from 47th to 18th with £2.7m sales.

Premier Foods' Batchelors Soupfulls has also performed strongly, rising from 69th place to 16th in the chart, thanks to its £4.6m in sales.

Top Launch - Green Giant (General Mills) 
Iconic vegetable brand Green Giant broke with its tradition of producing canned and frozen vegetables to launch a range of soups in August. A microwaveable pouch was chosen because consumers perceived it as healthier and more modern than the can, said Green Giant owner General Mills, which is forecasting first-year sales of £4m. If this is achieved it would parachute Green Giant into the top 20 soups table.
The bestselling soup remains Heinz Classic, which has seen sales increase 12.1% to £138.8m.

Earlier this year, Paul Lees, vice president of sales for Heinz UK & Ireland, claimed canned soup was a "recession-proof" category, perceived by consumers to be good value and easy to store.

However, the rise of the three Heinz launches and Bachelors Soupfulls has come at the expense of others in the category. Premier Foods' Campbell's has dropped from 11th place to 9th following a 19.4% sales slump to £6.9m. Baxters Healthy Choice has also suffered, with sales down 24.5% to £8.1m.

That said, it has been a good year for innovation. The TV series Breaking into Tesco resulted in contestant Nick Smallwood's creation, Soup in a Bun, being rolled out in June. Meanwhile, the New Covent Garden Food Co made a brave move into fruit soup, launched this summer.

Convenience has continued to drive new packaging formats, says Kathryn Bettles, product development manager for chilled convenience at Tesco. "There has been a move from pot and lid containers to Tetra Pak containers this year," she says.

Driven by increased sales and mounting consumer demand for value for money, new own-label soup flavours have also been introduced and are keeping brands on their toes.

"Our 600g soups are driving growth at present," says Bettles. "Further growth will come from new customers to the fresh soup category realising the great quality and value for money fresh soups offer."

View The Grocer's definitive Top Products 2008 survey