Heinz has abandoned its second attempt to create a successful chilled soup brand and pulled its Farmers’ Market range from the chillers just 18 months after it was launched.
The firm confirmed it was pulling the chilled range but keeping the canned ambient lines, which it claims have outperformed the market. The chilled soups, which were launched in summer 2007, were designed to “tap into the increasing desire among consumers for wholesome, hearty food that uses high quality ingredients”.
While the launch price of £1.49-£1.69 was cheaper than the £1.99 typically charged for New Covent Garden soups, the range has also faced some stiff competition from revitalised own-label ranges from the major supermarkets.
However, the overall chilled soup category has slowed down in recent weeks with a 6% decline in volume over the last 12 weeks compared to the wet ambient soups category, which was growing at 5%, said Heinz.
Soups brand manager Jennie Chubb said: "Heinz Soups plans to focus on its core strength, everyday value in the wet ambient category which continues to demonstrate strong growth and has, therefore, taken the decision to exit the chilled soups category.
"However, the Farmers’ Market range is the highest performing new sub-brand in the wet ambient category, achieving sales of £6.8M in the last year."
A new variety in the canned range - Carrot & Coriander with Crème Fraiche - had also been developed to meet consumer demand, she said.
David Taylor, managing partner at brand consultancy The Brand Gym, who predicted the demise of the chilled range as soon as it was launched, said: "I am not at all surprised by this. It's what I'd call a brand ego trip.
"New Covent Garden is so dominant in this category that you have got to offer the consumer something genuinely different if you want to gain market share. While it might have taken the Heinz brand into new areas, what value has it added to the consumer?"