Campbell Soup Company said that in fiscal 2011 it plans to “fire up” its condensed soup range to benefit both cooking soups and eating soups despite a continued “challenging” landscape.

Company president and CEO Doug Conant said that the company’s data indicates that consumers are purchasing fewer items and spending even fewer dollars on grocery. “For the soup category, these dynamics have had a negative impact, particularly on our ready-to-serve cans and microwavable products which carry higher average selling prices. The overall category has declined by 4.7%; our sales have declined 5.2%.”

The company’s focus on its condensed soup offering, Conant says is because the category is the “most appealing for customers right now both for cooking at home and for consuming with their eating soups”. He added that as part of the relaunch of the condensed soup line, the company will be launching product improvements, marketing improvements and shelving improvements starting in the first two weeks in September.

With marketing spend down US$100m on two years ago, and much of the money shifting to trade support or promotions, the manufacturer is now set to launch its first fully integrated umbrella advertising campaign, supporting the entire Campbell soup portfolio, starting today (6 September).

When justifying the reduced spend Conant said that, over time, he expects that it would be rebalanced, but that “it’s actually up above the pace of sales this year as we go forward”.

“I do believe the quality is up significantly and I know the spending is up above our growth in sales. So the net impact should be significantly up and the reach – the effective reach of the campaign in soup is significantly improved versus where it was last year.”

He added that the company has diversified its marketing plan to include more social media and other vehicles, which he said would be evident come the 6 September launch.

Queried about the efficacy of umbrella campaigns, which are often used by companies wanting to save money, Conant justified the campaign by confirming that the campaign will only run across its condensed and ready-to-serve portfolio, which he said has the “beauty of the Campbell’s trademark, which cuts across all of those soups very naturally”.

While Conant said Campbell’s had “softer-than-expected sales” for the year, the company seems confident of the success of its new strategy. “I am very bullish about our ability to perform in this coming year. We understand the pricing environment we are in now, we are organised to compete at that level going into the season not trying to adjust in mid-season, we are very well aligned with the customers now, the customers are more prepared to deal with the environment we are operating in,” he said.

However, shares in the company had fallen 3.06% at the close of trading on Friday down to US$36.21 a share.