Campbell Soup Co. wants consumers to add some soup to the coffee pot as part of a new deal with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.
Beginning next year the companies will market Campbell's Fresh-Brewed Soup K-Cup packs that can be prepared "at the touch of a button" in Green Mountain's Keurig brewers, according to an announcement today.
The product includes broth packaged in the single-serve K-Cup format, as well as a packet of dry pasta and vegetable blend garnish. "Consumers simply brew a broth K-Cup over this garnish to create a satisfying snack in minutes," according to a statement from Campbell. The companies are planning three flavors, including homestyle chicken broth and noodle, which are expected to be sold in the same store locations as K-Cup coffee.
The product is the latest move by Campbell to expand beyond its traditional canned soup business in an attempt to reinvigorate the mature category. Other recent launches include Campbell's Go line of microwavable soup pouches. The marketer has also sought to grow its dinner-sauce business with Campbell Skillet Sauces and Campbell's Slow Cooker Sauces. The innovations have emerged as a priority for CEO Denise Morrison, who has held the top job since August of 2011.
"This innovative partnership is a win for consumers and for both companies, and represents another important step as Campbell expands into higher-growth spaces," Ms. Morrison said in a statement.
But soup-in-a-K-Cup is her most unconventional play so far. The product is aimed at capitalizing on the growing trend of consumers snacking multiple times per day, a phenomenon known as "mini-meals" in the packaged-food industry. "The union of Campbell's great taste and the speed and convenience of Keurig invites new consumption occasions and positions both companies to better meet the growing snacking needs of consumers in the U.S," said Brian Kelley, president-CEO of Green Mountain.
But will consumers be willing to cook soup in a coffee maker? Phil Lempert, a food-industry analyst who runs supermarketguru.com, called it a "very clever concept." But he raised a few questions, including: "If a person uses the same machine for coffee and soup, they will have to spend extra time cleaning the machine."
Asked to respond, a Green Mountain spokeswoman said: "We've done extensive testing to ensure that there is little carryover from one brew to the next, making it so coffee continues to taste like freshly brewed coffee and soups will continue to taste like savory soups. For those who are concerned, we recommend performing a rinse cycle similar to regular maintenance of the Keurig system after a Campbell's Fresh-Brewed Soup is brewed."
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CORRECTION: A previous version of this story cited a Campbell spokeswoman as responding to a question about using the same machine for coffee and soup. The response came from a Green Mountain Coffee Roasters spokeswoman.