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Steve’s breakdown: Campbell Soup was with BBDO since 1954 but has not yet replaced them. Now there’s a new Soup President and we suspect it will be high on his to-do list.

CAMDEN, NJ: Campbell Soup named Roberto Leopardi as president of its Campbell Meals and Beverages operation, according to a company release. Leopardi, 53, will lead the division that includes Campbell’s North American soup, sauces and shelf-stable beverages brands, as well as Pacific Foods and Plum Organics.

Leopardi will report to Luca Mignini, the company’s chief operating officer. Leopardi joins Campbell after 24 years at SC Johnson and four at Nestlé. He will start June 4.

“Roberto will play a critical role in delivering against our strategic priorities of stabilizing and then
sustaining strong financial results for this important Campbell division,” Mignini said. 

Leopardi’s appointment to head the division comes a few days after Campbell Soup announced the abrupt departure of its long-time CEO, Denise Morrison.

The Americas simple meals and beverage division, which Leopardi will oversee, is the largest for Campbell Soup. Overall, sales in the third quarterincreased 5% to $1.010 billion, which reflected the acquisition of Pacific Foods last December. Organic sales decreased 2% primarily due to declines in V8 beverages, Plum products and U.S. soup.

While the New Jersey company has positioned itself as a major player in fresh food and snacks, soup remains an important source of sales despite the product’s ongoing struggles.

Sales in soup, the company’s most well-known product, represents about 27% of Campbell’s sales. Excluding benefits from the acquisition of Pacific Foods, sales of U.S. soup during the company’s most recent quarter decreased 1% due to declines in condensed soups, partly offset by gains in broth and ready-to-serve soups.

Leopardi comes to Campbell Soup from SC Johnson, including most recently where he was responsible for driving sales and market share growth for its portfolio of brands in the U.S. and Canada. As Campbell Soup noted in its release, his role will be to do much the same with some of its key products.

But it will be no easy task at Campbell Soup. Consumers are moving away from processed center-of-the-store products like soup toward products that are fresher, organic and contain a smaller roster of recognizable ingredients — areas where young startups have excelled.

Campbell Soup has acquired brands like Plum Organics and natural and organic brand Pacific Foods of Oregon, while expanding the reach of its own brands — such as through the introduction of its clean label WellYes! soups line along with energy-based beverages in V8. But despite repositioning itself to better meet changing consumer trends, the company has watched sales slump.

There is some speculation that the company, under new leadership, could split up the company. It’s possible that separating out soups, either as a public company or private entity, would silo it off from attention being given to the faster-growing snacks segment. Campbell Soup also could consider a bigger step like selling itself. For Leopardi, his initial goal now will be to stop the bleeding in soups, and only then to consider growth. His challenge will be actually achieving this.

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