PhillyDeals: Analyst says Campbell shifting back to hearty

Is a new Camden County plant in the cards for Amoroso's?
Is a new Camden County plant in the cards for Amoroso's? (File Photo)
Posted: July 27, 2013

Campbell Soup Co., based in Camden, has made a "stark shift" toward "taste- and brand-driven innovation," and moved away from "the low-sodium and wellness messaging of the prior three years," writes analyst Jonathan Feeney in a report Thursday to clients of Janney Capital Markets, Philadelphia.

(A similar embrace of fatty new sandwiches is helping lift Wendy's at the expense of longtime U.S. burger champ McDonald's, whose new healthier food isn't selling, Feeney's colleague Mark Kalinowski tells clients.)

"Listening carefully to the customer has driven a return to good-tasting, foolproof innovations like tastier, more filling Chunky varieties - [such as] Philly Cheesesteak soup - replacing 'All Natural' ready-to-serve soup with 'Home Style' Goldfish Mac & Cheese - an intelligent extension into a kid-heavy adjacency - and even V8 Bloody Mary Mix, an obvious and foolproof line extension if ever there was one," Feeney wrote.

He expects the shift to cheesy, fatty kid stuff, plus expanding popular old brands into new products, will boost sales and profits, despite the long-term drop in Campbell advertising spending. Still, Feeney's not sure Campbell's promising moves by themselves justify its one-third stock-market rise year to date. Rather, he suspects investor excitement about a possible Campbell takeover after H.J. Heinz Co. was sold this year has juiced shareholder hopes the soup-maker will also be taken out at a fat sale premium. "But that is unlikely anytime soon," Feeney concludes.

"Health and wellness mean different things to different people," Campbell spokeswoman Carla Burigatto told me. Campbell hasn't walked away from healthy; it sells, Burigatto said, "over 100 products that meet the criteria for the American Heart Association heart check mark" - Healthy Request soups, low-salt juices, Prego Heart sauces, Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain breads.

She also noted new healthier products like "gluten-free Goldfish Puffs" and new products in "faster-growing" categories of Bolthouse fresh vegetables and newly acquired Plum Organics baby food.

Bakery move?

The boss at West Philly-based Amoroso's Baking Co. is part of a partnership that has purchased a 300,000-square-foot former Harcourt book warehouse in Bellmawr, Camden County, Amoroso's owner told me. Mark Mathews at Gloucestercitynews.com notes the site could be a new location for Amoroso's, which has been looking at new plants to replace its aging West Philly bakery.

"We're considering it. We're still considering other options as well," including rival sites in Philadelphia and the suburbs, Amoroso's owner Len Amoroso said.

"A real estate partnership, which we are part of, bought that [Bellmawr] building," he said. "That's a good building. It's priced right. But we have not made any decisions yet." He said he was also looking for possible tenants.

"We're hoping by the end of the year" to make a decision on whether to make the move, Amoroso added. "It's a process. It could take a year or more. We're not some little retail bakery."

Amoroso's, a longtime hoagie-roll supplier to Wawa, supermarkets, and mom-amd-pop delis, has been pushing hundreds of bakers and drivers to cut labor costs so it can more easily turn a profit while staying competitive with Liscio's and smaller fresh-roll bakers.


Contact Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5914 or JoeD@phillynews.com.

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