Saturday, October 17, 2009

Campbell's Tries to Address LS/LF Market

Campbell's Healthy Request Soups: Progress in Marketing LS/LF Products

Campbell's has reorganized their soup offerings and at least is making an attempt to market soups that are low in both salt and fat. This is a remarkable step for a major grocery manufacturer, although niche firms like Hain's have been doing it for a long time.

The "Healthy Request" products "are 98% fat free, contain up to 50% less sodium than our regular soups and are made with high quality ingredients." Now 50% of a high number can still be rather high and none of these products can legally be labeled "low salt". These products meet the AHA heart check standards, as shown by the red logo above, and the stricter Canadian Health Check standards. However, most have 410 mg of sodium - lower than a lot of mainstream products but depending on you sodium daily goal it could cause a real problem. As a reminder, HHS and USDA joint Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 states:


  • Consume less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 tsp of salt) of sodium per day.
  • Choose and prepare foods with little salt. At the same time, consume potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

Key Recommendations for Specific Population Groups

  • Individuals with hypertension, blacks, and middle-aged and older adults. Aim to consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, and meet the potassium recommendation (4,700 mg/day) with food.
Thus, if your medical team advocates a 1,500 mg of sodium/day goal, there aren't a lot of 410 mg servings you can eat. Indeed, one serving of Healthy Request soup gives you an allowance for the rest of the day of 1,500 - 410 = 1,090 mg. Note that HHS and USDA recommend such goals not only for a tiny demographic group with esoteric medical conditions, but for "(i)ndividuals with hypertension, blacks, and middle-aged and older adults". These add up to a significant fraction of the US population.
US age distribution in 2000 (CRS Report)

Now Campbell's does offer 6 low sodium soups. See how many you actually find in a mainstream store! Why? Grocery suppliers like Campbell's pay stores "slotting fees" or slotting allowances" to guarantee specific items are on the shelf in your neighborhood stores. Thus Campbell's selects what products to push. Note also the 'low sodium" logo Campbell's uses as shown above. It says "for sodium restricted diets" as if it were dangerous for anyone else.

So thanks Campbell's for addressing both salt and fat in a mainstream product. But let's see if you can get the salt down to a more reasonable level.

And before you send the form letter that says this is what people really want, remember that people really preferred Coca-Cola with cocaine and 7-Up with lithium until they were taken off the market. Cocaine probably makes the Coke experience much better just like salt makes Campbell's soups taste better. But that is not what responsible producers do.

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