US soup company Campbell is to cut around 300 jobs in North America as part of a plan to drive growth.

The company’s new “Driving Quality Growth” plan, aimed at improving sales growth and the quality and growth of the company’s earnings, also includes the elimination of around 100 positions at Campbell’s international operations.

The plan targets annual growth targets of 3-4% for net sales and 5-7% for earnings per share. Cost savings initiatives are expected to result in a pre-tax restructuring charge of up to US$35m in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2004, but are expected to generate significant future savings.

The strategy includes a focus on convenience and availability as the primary sources of incremental future revenue growth, and an emphasis on wellness initiatives.

The 300 job losses in North America include approximately 165 positions at Campbell’s World Headquarters in Camden, New Jersey. In addition, the company expects to eliminate up to 100 positions in its international locations. In total, these reductions in Campbell’s North America and International divisions represent less than 2% of the company’s workforce.

Under the plan, Campbell will continue to invest in its market leading US brands, including Campbell’s, V8 and Pepperidge Farm, and in Australian biscuit brand Arnott’s. Campbell said these brands currently account for two-thirds of Campbell’s global net sales.

Campbell said it plans to launch 29 new products in fiscal 2005, several of which support the company’s focus on wellness. The new products include five varieties of Campbell’s Carb Request ready-to-serve low-carbohydrate soups, four varieties of Campbell’s Chunky Chili, and a line of V8 vegetarian soups, entrees, and chili for the away from home market.

The company also plans to launch aseptic soups in the US. Aseptic processing provides improved taste and higher nutritional value, and the soup is packaged in a resealable container.