In an otherwise dreary second quarter earnings report, Campbell Soup Co. offered a few highlights of optimism, including the upcoming launch of a cold-pressed, high-pressure processed (HPP) juice line called “1915 by Bolthouse Farms.”
The new line, which takes its name from the first year that the Bolthouse family began their commercial farm operation, will debut this spring. The juice blends are USDA certified organic, made with Non-GMO ingredients and packaged in 12 oz. bottles. While Campbell has yet to release nutritional information and pricing, an image released by the company shows 1915 available in five initial varieties, each formulated with ingredients that will be familiar to mainstream consumers, including a blend of coconut water, pineapple, mango, avocado and lemon, and a strawberry, blueberry, coconut water, apple, spinach and blackberry juice.
The introduction marks yet another foray into the burgeoning world of cold-pressed, HPP juices by a food and beverage conglomerate, including Starbucks’ 2011 acquisition of Evolution Fresh, Hain Celestial’s 2012 purchase of BluePrint, Ocean Spray’s alliance with FreshBev, and WhiteWave Foods’ recent investment in Daily Greens. Meanwhile, top-selling HPP juice brand Suja has over the past 18 months taken on strategic investors Boulder Brands Investment Group, Alliance Consumer Growth and Evolution Media Capital as equity partners.
Campbell’s announced launch of a cold-pressed juice line follows a 4 percent decline in sales of its U.S. beverage division, which includes V8 juices, but not those of its Bolthouse Farms brand (which are part of the company’s “Packaged Fresh” division), for the three month period ending on Feb. 1. In a call detailing Campbell’s second quarter financials, which outlined a 2 percent drop in sales and 11 percent plunge in earnings per share as compared to the same period a year prior, CEO Denise Morrison specifically noted that she “was not satisfied with the performance of the US beverage business,” in which declines of its V8 V-Fusion brand more than offset gains for that of V8 Splash.
While Morrison stated that the company’s new V8 Veggie Blends, a four-SKU line of better-for-you, mid-calorie juices, “have been well received by our customers,” she noted that the overall “shelf-stable juice category has been really sluggish for a couple years, and… one of the big drivers is most of the juice in that category contains sugar and there’s been a movement on the part of consumers to really pay attention to that.”
Morrison also pointed to “seismic shifts” in the food and beverage industry, particularly that of changing consumer behavior and preferences, as creating “a challenging environment that we and our peers are operating in, particularly in center store categories,” referring to the location in grocer stores where many Campbell’s products reside.
At the recently held Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference, Morrison told attendees that consumers have a “mounting distrust of so-called big food” and that suppliers “are seeing an explosion of interest in fresh foods, dramatically increased focus by consumers on the effects of food on their health and well-being and mounting demands for transparency from food companies about where and how their products are made, what ingredients are in them, and how these ingredients are produced.”
As a result, Morrison, while describing Campbell as “still very committed to increasing our V8 business in single-serve, immediate consumption,” said that company will “continue to ramp up its health and well-being platform,” including new innovation within a segment it terms as “Packaged Fresh.” That innovation includes the new 1915 line and other brand extensions for Bolthouse Farms, such as a new blueberry banana almond milk variety, which will be released in the spring.