For us at MBL, the major trends are towards premium and fresh. At the premium end we list Duchy Originals Organic and New Covent Garden's standard range. The latter's lines took the top two positions and Duchy third, fourth and fifth. These top-end soups are good enough for dinner parties and ideal for lunch, something underlined by NCG's introduction of a 300g single-serving carton.
NCG is mainstream now but the introduction of Duchy has had a big impact over the past two years. It has been a storming success in our stores.
Duchy doesn't do much to promote its soups but its PR is good and it benefits from word-of-mouth endorsement. NCG, however, advertises widely in the consumer press and in sectors outside the mainstream food and lifestyle press. We run our own promotional pricing activity because it attracts new customers.
Soup is seasonal so we condense our range to core favourites and cold soups in summer and offer a wider variety, with more shelf space in winter. The warm October has definitely affected soup sales, so we are hoping for a cold winter to redress the balance.
Convenience, organic and premium products are likely to maintain their appeal.
Above all, consumers are much more aware of the variety of food available these days and, in general, are not looking for an economy soup. There is constant innovation in the market too, with new flavours and pack sizes. NCG's Soup of the Month concept, for instance, brings excitement to the market and is very good for sales.