Campbell buying Calif. maker of baby and kid foods

Posted: May 24, 2013

Continuing its efforts to shift into faster-growing areas of the supermarket, Campbell Soup Co. said Thursday that it had reached an agreement to buy Plum Organics, a California producer of baby foods and snacks for toddlers and older children.

Campbell did not say what it agreed to pay for Plum, owned by the venture-capital firm Catamount Ventures.

Founded in 2007 by Neil Grimmer, the current chief executive, and a partner in Catamount Ventures, Plum Organics had $93 million in gross sales last year. The deal is expected to close in Campbell's current quarter.

"The acquisition will help deliver on our dual mandate to strengthen our core businesses and to expand into faster-growing categories," Campbell's chief executive, Denise Morrison, said in a news release. "It represents another step toward our long-term goal of shifting Campbell's center of gravity."

That means reducing the company's reliance on canned soup, which for years has been relatively slow-growing while competitors have chipped away at Campbell's dominant market share.

Last year, Morrison spearheaded the $1.55 billion purchase of Bolthouse Farms, a producer of carrots and fresh juices, to gain a new foothold in refrigerated supermarket cases, where sales have been growing faster.

Campbell said that baby food was a $2 billion category in the United States and that sales of premium and organic baby food grew at an average annual rate of 43 percent from 2010 through 2012.

Plum Organics was among the first companies to sell fruit and vegetable blends in pouches with plastic spouts that have made it easy for busy parents to give their children healthy snacks on the go.

But its products also have been criticized for containing more sugar than unadulterated fruit and eliminating the need to chew, which enables children to consume more in a shorter period of time.

The addition of Plum Organics will give Campbell a kids-focused group of products with annual sales of more than $1 billion, the company said.

Contact Harold Brubaker

at 215-854-4651 or

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