Jun 06, 2013 • By

Soup sales are steaming hot

The long winter in parts of the U.S. no doubt helped soup sales this year. Retail sales in the ready-to-serve soup category were up 5 percent through our fiscal third quarter.

And retail sales of our Progresso ready-to-serve soups were even higher – up 7 percent, through the third quarter.

But more than the weather has contributed to this growing trend.

First, consumers in general are returning to soup as a meal option – just a few years after the canned soup category was in decline.

In response, soup companies resumed emphasizing the benefits of soup – including great taste. And consumers, particularly Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000), have taken notice.

Second, while Progresso’s core consumer continues to be Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), the brand is gaining appeal with Millennials looking to manage their weight.

Earlier this year, we launched the “ProgressOh!” campaign that celebrates weight-loss success ‘moments’ on social media channels such as Facebook. (Watch the ProgressOh! ad).

Thousands of consumers have offered up stories on how soup has helped them lose or maintain a healthy weight, and they suggested flavors that will influence new products we plan to launch this summer, says Myer Joy, Progresso’s vice president of marketing.

That soup could be a delicious and effective weight-loss tool was championed by a member of Progresso Light’s original development team, Heidi Teoh, who had lost more than 100 pounds by eating right (including Progresso for lunch) and exercising regularly.

Progresso now has 40 flavors of soups with 100 calories or less per serving and is the only Light soup endorsed by Weight Watchers. Our newer cream-based light soups – Light New England clam chowder, Light Creamy Potato with Bacon & Cheese and Chicken Pot Pie Style – have been particularly popular.

Finally, the primary driver of Progresso’s recent growth has been our core ready-to-serve soup business.

Last year, we re-launched our entire Rich & Hearty line of soups to make each flavor taste even better, and we also added several new flavors including Hearty Chicken Pot Pie and Roasted Chicken Wild Rice.

Since acquiring the brand with the Pillsbury acquisition in fiscal 2002, Progresso has steadily gained market share over the past 10 years. Progresso’s share of the $1.9 billion ready-to-serve soup category is up over a point through the third quarter of this fiscal year and now stands at about 40 percent of soup segment sales.

So enjoy a steaming bowl of soup. After a long winter, it will warm you up – and slim you down – just in time for the summer.