The Campbell's soup can evolved from an American dinnertime staple into a symbol of iconography during the Pop art movement of the early 1960s. But now, even Andy Warhol himself might be stunned to learn that canned soup may soon become a bygone relic.
Worldwide soup consumption was flat in 2013, reports consumer research firm Euromonitor International, continuing a trend of declining global sales in the category over the last five years.
But it's not necessarily soup itself that consumers are rejecting, asserts research analyst Daniel Grimsey in a blog post published by Euromonitor, so much as the metal cans within which it is packaged.
"Metal food cans are notoriously difficult to open," he says. "The can is also one of the heaviest packaging formats and is consequently responsible for a large carbon footprint. In addition, metal food cans tend to look virtually identical on supermarket shelves."
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Though still relatively nascent, younger consumers are warming to the notion of soups packaged in stand-up pouches, Grimsey claims. Campbell's Go, as they were unveiled by the company in 2012, have shown enormous promise in America, while leading competitor Heinz's version, dubbed Soup of the Day, have performed well in Australia.
Last September, Campbell's even unveiled Fresh-Brewed Soup K-Cups that can be prepared by Keurig coffee brewers. The two-part preparation includes a K-Cup broth brewed over a packet of dried pasta and vegetables.
And the pouch approach is emerging as a key packaging format in a multitude of categories, Grimsey added, including beans, ketchup, tunafish, baby food and more.
"It is possible that one day consumers will no longer walk down the canned food aisle in supermarkets, instead walking down the pouched food aisle," he said.
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