GLOBAL – Canned soup products demand is in decline across Europe and Australia, and the main culprit is the metal food can packaging, says one recent report.
According to Euromonitor, soup consumption is “flat around the world”, with volume growth registering at less than 1% globally in 2013. While there are still growth opportunities in the developing markets, soup volume sales have been on a downward trajectory across most of the Western world for half a decade.
In particular, the largest category - canned/preserved soup – has been on the decline in Europe and Australia.
The market intelligence firm’s forecast for the packaged food product category is dismal: a 5% CAGR decline in Australia, and close to 6% in the Netherlands; meanwhile countries such as France, Italy and Spain can expect a CAGR decline of 2%
Research analyst Daniel Grimsey claims that the main cause of the volume sales decline is not necessarily the product itself but rather its packaging: “Consumers are rejecting this packaging format.
“Metal food cans are notoriously difficult to open. The can is also one of the heaviest packaging formats and is consequently responsible for a large carbon footprint. In addition, metal food cans tend to look virtually identical on supermarket shelves,” says Grimsey.
“Metal food cans have consequently been rejected by younger generations as a dated packaging format filled with old-fashioned-type foods. Soup in metal food cans is still largely assumed to be limited to tomato, chicken noodle, minestrone and pumpkin.”
He adds, “Metal food cans are considered a pack type from a bygone era. This is a problem facing metal food cans all the way down the canned food aisle, but it is particularly pertinent in relation to soup. Such preconceptions are so prevalent in the consumer’s mind that even if new, exciting and exotic flavours were launched in a metal can format, consumers would barely notice.
“The can is clearly the problem.”
Grimsey suggests that soup consumption volumes can be salvaged by shifting to another packaging format: the stand-up pouch. Besides being much easier to open in comparison to metal food cans, stand-up pouches also offer larger promotional print surface areas. In addition, the lightweight nature of stand-up pouches significantly reduces their carbon footprint.
“The prospect of stand-up pouches emerging as a key packaging format in other categories, where their combination of light weight, easy opening and eye-catching futurism is appealing, is strong,” says Grimsey.
“Such opportunities particularly exist in stagnant or declining canned/preserved food categories, where the unenticing reputation of the metal food can as an old-fashioned pack type indicates the need for a major transformation in order to regain consumer interest.
“It is uncertain at this early stage to what extent stand-up pouches will take over categories previously dominated by metal food cans, but it is possible that one day consumers will no longer walk down the canned food aisle in supermarkets, instead walking down the “pouched food aisle”.”