Campbell Soup Co. has insisted it has made progress in returning its core businesses to stable profitable growth, while simultaneously investing to develop new opportunities for expansion.

Speaking to analysts 18 months after she took the helm of then-struggling soup maker, Campbell CEO Denise Morrison said the group has made progress on its “dual mandate” to expand into higher growth categories and geographies and engage with new consumers, while also restoring its core North American business to stability.

In order to revitalise its US soup and simple meal unit, Campbell has focused on innovation, brand building and “execution excellence”, Morrison claimed.

“We know there are no silver bullets so we will continue to nurture our brands with product innovation,” she suggested. “It is working – you can see it working now and you can expect to see more of the same in the future.”

She added the group is “applying the same play” to its beverages and baked goods units in North America, with early results looking “promising”.

Beyond strengthening its core businesses, the US food group is looking to expand into high-growth and new categories through “breakthrough innovation” such as its skillet cooking range and Campbell Go Soups. Using breakthrough innovation Campbell is trying to “make new markets”, not “do line extensions”, Morrison insisted.

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“We have many more ideas in the pipeline,” Morrison revealed. Campbell is preparing to launch 216 products across the business next year, she added.

The company is also increasingly turning to M&A to expand into new and complementary categories, Morrison said, pointing to the group’s acquisition of Bolthouse Farms. Bolthouse has provided Campbell with access to the US$12bn packaged fresh foods category, a sector growing at 6-7% a year – well above the food industry average – she emphasised.

“Developing our plans in this space has been a springboard for developing our thinking about our own universe” offering “wall to wall” portfolio spanning all meal occasions “breakfast lunch and dinner and all of the grazing opportunities in between”.

Campbell is also looking to develop its business in international markets – particularly Asia and Latin America.

“We have many irons in the fire in this arena, last week we announced a new commercial arrangement in Mexico… that will give us access to distribution and manufacturing capabilities that haven’t been available to us in Mexico and will redefine the scope of out operations there.”

Meanwhile, in Indonesia and Malaysia, Campbell has driven double-digit growth through its focus on innovation, execution and marketing, Morrison said, while China represents another “priority market” where the group is attempting to drive growth.