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CAMPBELL'S KIELY STRESSES DISTRIBUTOR ROLE'Away-From-Home' Exec Says New Products Under Development

Foodservice is very much at home in the "Away From Home" portfolio of Campbell Soup Co., Camden, NJ.

The branded manufacturer recently announced a strategic realignment of its North American businesses, in which all soup categories are under one umbrella, beverage, sauce and prepared foods under another. But the restructuring has had a minimal impact on foodservice, notes Joseph Kiely, newly- named president of the Away From Home Division, which includes Canadian as well as domestic business, and also the Stockpot refrigerated soup line.

Previously, Kiely's title was president of the U.S. Foodservice Division of Away From Home. In his new post, he succeeds Craig Rydin, who is now ceo of The Yankee Candle Co., Whately, MA.

The foodservice business remains intact, with all categories still reporting to him in this increasingly important part of the company's business, Kiely explains. "With the consumer dollar migrating from retail to foodservice, this is definitely a growth area," he comments.

Greater access to corporate R&D

Perhaps the most meaningful impact of the restructuring, Kiely says, is that it has given him greater access to corporate marketing research and product R&D, in addition to existing capability.

The branded manufacturer currently rings up some $533 million in Away From Home sales90 percent in the U.S, the rest in Canadaor approximately 10 percent of overall volume. Among brands are Pepperidge Farm, Prego, Pace and V-8. The Stockpot line, acquired several years ago, has added significantly to foodservice capability.

Campbell works through more than 500 "direct" distributor locations in the U.S., including multiple branch-es, servicing them with a combination direct and broker sales force.

Distributors are viewed by Campbell not as logistics providers but as customers, Kiely notes. "We can't be successful at the local level without aligning ourselves with the distributor community. They have great local market knowledge, and operators depend on them for help with menus, merchandising, and new products."

Innovation is the key'

While soup is "who we are" and has always been the company's primary focus, he adds, Campbell has a broad range of foodservice products, including sauces, bakery and entree items, to help distributors consolidate purchases. In addition, the company is working on new foodservice products (still under wraps), as "innovation is the key to differentiate ourselves from competition and a cornerstone of our strategy."

At the same time, Campbell remains acquisition-minded, says Kiely, in order to expand the product portfolio, "where it makes strategic sense."

Efficient Foodservice Response (EFR) is yet another arena in which Kielywho is on the board of the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA)says Campbell wants to play a role. The supplier is working on a day-to-day basis to help distributor customers drive cost out of the system, he notes. "We are very supportive of what IFMA and the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) are trying to do in terms of EFR."

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