Campbell’s Soup is closing its oldest Canadian factor and laying off close to 400 people.
The company blames over-production. Ana Dominguez, the company’s head of Canadian operations, said “Simply put, we are in a situation where we can produce a lot more soup than we can sell.”
The Canadian closing is a net win for three US Campbell factories (Maxton, N.C.; Napoleon, Ohio; and Paris, Texas) which will add jobs to meet the production void left by the closure in Toronto. Which doesn’t make sense if overproduction is the driving issue, but okay.
The company’s market cap has crumbled over the past year (see below). The Toronto Metro use notes that Campbell’s Denise Morrison thinks changing trends toward fresh fruits and vegetables and away from canned soups is part of the reason. It’s worth noting that this is happening at the same time that “bone soup” (also known as broth) is selling at a premium in little start-up kitchens and trendy new chains.
Are more people cooking simple meals at home? As badly as I feel for the laid-off Campbell’s workers, and I do, I hope the answer is yes. I don’t see much reprieve in the North American economy, even though Obama said the recession was over years ago and Trump says the booming stock market will lift all boats. I’ve seen some positive changes, certainly, and I’m sure you have, too. But one of the reasons fresh fruit and vegetables are once again on-trend (like he were for 100,000 years) is simple economics. They’re cheaper. Homemade broths turn chicken carcasses and beef bones into meals that stretch. Fresh vegetables are also healthier, and getting sick is expensive. Some research now indicates that homemade broths really do have long-attested remedial properties.
Given the shift in production south of the Canadian border, overproduction of canned soups can’t really be the culprit behind Campbell’s problems. Maybe they’ve been too slow to change with market demands. Or maybe the industrial food complex we’ve come to depend on needs serious re-thinking.
Best wishes, hopes, and prayers for the hardworking Toronto staff.