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Campbell’s acquires Wolfgang Puck’s soup division

BY Jenna Duncan

CHICAGO Campbell Soup has purchased the soup business that was under the Wolfgang Puck name from Country Gourmet Foods, the companies yesterday announced. The Wolfgang Puck soup business was purchased for an undisclosed sum.

Campbell will now hold the licensing rights from Wolfgang Puck Worldwide to market the Wolfgang Puck’s broths, soups and stock products in North America. The company also has said that it has plans to use the new business to expand its organic soups line.

Campbell Soup told the media that last year organic wet soup sales were up 23 percent since 2003, at $150 million. The company said that it does not expect the addition of Wolfgang Puck soups to have an impact on Campbell’s bottom line, but predicts a change after fiscal 2009.

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Dannon group readies for some shelf-assessment

BY Jenna Duncan

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. Dannon yogurt maker has implemented a five-member “shelf-obsession” group whose main purpose is to use shelf space in retailers to better market Dannon products. Laura Santella-Saccone, Dannon senior marketing executive, will name the team that will utilize sales backgrounds and market research to beef up Dannon’s shelf presence.

A company representative, Michael Neuwirth, told the media, “Our ambition is to impact about 3,000 stores in 2008. We need to be able to market this initiative to retailers” and use “heavy leverage market research data about the yogurt category and the opportunity.”

The shelf-obsession team will go beyond sales plans to apply their unique expertise and support to the currently operating sales teams, who, the company said, are more focused on day-to-day customer relationship issues.

Neuwith also said that dairy takes up about 3 percent of grocery store space. Dairy comprises about 9 percent of sales, he said. He said that he believed yogurt and dairy should close that gap, citing for example, that dry grocery takes up 43 percent of grocery store space, but makes 30 percent of sales.

Sources have said that yogurt is seeing a current growth rate of 6.3 percent per year, despite its meager annual shelf space growth rate of 3.9 percent. Neuwirth said that he has seen such growth as the demand for functional items like Activia and DanActive continues to grow.

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Online coupons become business driver when money is tight

BY Jenna Duncan

DADE CITY, Fla. The bad economy means good business for online coupon exposure, the St. Petersburg Times reported this week.

Many businesses are now using the power of the Internet coupon to attract more shoppers to their markets. Sources said that last year 2.6-billion coupons were used by American shoppers. The surge marks the first time in almost two decades that there was not a decline in coupon use.

Hits at various coupon Web sites have increased 66 percent in May compared to the same time last year, said HitWise online-competition research group. Yet Web-based coupon-ing remains a small industry—of the 279-billion coupons issued last year, only 0.2 percent were sent out online.

The biggest online coupon company, Invenda, operator of E-centives.com, has never turned a profit. In fact, as of the beginning of the year, the company faced a deficit of $162-million.

However, The Coupon Clippers, a coupon mailing that has turned into profitable online business, told the Times that it has recently been signing up customers by the thousands. According to the article, The Coupon Clippers’ sales have grown by about 25 percent in the last 12 months. The Coupon Clipper first launched its online presence in 1998.

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