If you are not stocking the traditional favourites in ambient soup, you're missing out

The ambient soup category is currently growing at a rate of 3.6%, underperforming against the total independent sector growth, which is currently running at 6.4%. In comparison, fresh soup is growing at a rate of 9.2%, but still only accounts for 10.1% of the total soup market.

Within the independent sector, there is no doubt that established favourites are the leaders of the pack. SalesOut data manager Linda Horton says: "Heinz's Classic favourites continue to be the nation's favourites, although competing products such as Baxters have seen significant growth. It is apparent that consumers continue to opt for their favourite traditional soups, as brand leaders Heinz, Batchelors and Baxters remain the top-selling products collectively accounting for 95% of the entire category. Heinz has a 62.9% share (up 0.2%), Batchelors 21.4% (-0.9%) and Baxters 11.1% (+0.4%).

"Consumers appear to be reticent to pay premiums for newer packaging types, such as pouches, as they are not perceived to offer a significant convenience advantage over traditional cans, which themselves have seen the popular addition of ring pulls."

The top six soup lines in the independent sector are all made by Heinz. In fact, the company is responsible for 11 of the top 12 skus; the only other brand getting a look-in is Batchelors Cup-a-Soup original chicken 5s, which is the seventh best-selling line.

The ambient soup champion is Heinz Classic cream of tomato 400g which achieves more than double the sales value of the number two line in the market, Heinz Classic cream of chicken 400g. The next varieties in the list are all from the Heinz Classic range in 400g sizes, namely vegetable, oxtail, cream of mushroom and lentil. The 300g variant of cream of tomato makes it into the top 10 at number nine in its own right, with the 4 x 400g multipack growing by nearly 15% year on year to reach number 11 in the list.

This column is based on data for more than 11,000 independent stores, 5,000 of which are symbols, in the year to October 8, 2010. For a full list of the top 25 ambient soup skus in the independent sector, visit www.thegrocer.co.uk/convenience-store.

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