There’s an old fashioned war going on in the soup category between Campbell’s and Progresso thanks to Campbell’s Select Harvest brand extension. The Select Harvest line is made with all natural ingredients — notice they didn’t use the word “healthy.” Campbell’s is dinging Progresso for too much MSG and unnatural flavorings.
Now playing defense, Progresso just published the results of a taste test which is a a sure sign the market is changing. In their latest ad they claim 7 of 10 prefer the taste of Progresso’s Chicken Noodle soup over Campbell’s Harvest Chicken with Egg Noodles.” Well, duh. Unnatural, unhealthy and preservative-filled food often tastes better. (I like regular Hellman’s Mayonnaise better than lite mayo, but I use the latter because it’s better for me.) It takes a lot of R&D to be able to make a natural soup that tastes good, that tastes like the individual ingredients, and “does no harm.”
Campbell’s knows this and shouldn’t worry about taste tests at this juncture. They need to keep pushing the natural ingredients and working in the test kitchen to improve taste. Maybe use born-on dating to help keep the food fresh, or a new container. Douglas Conant, Campbell’s CEO, is onto something with this fresh and healthy approach…and he knows it.