Campbell to exit snack foods business in Australia

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 2nd May 2008

Food manufacturer Campbell Soup Company has announced plans to exit the snack foods business in Australia. Campbell’s have agreed to sell to a group of Australian investors which include members of the management team at Australian snack foods company The Real McCoy.

The sale incorporates the following snack food brands: Cheezels, Thins, Tasty Jacks, French Fries and Kettle Chips, as well as two food production plants in Australia. The deal is part of a global re-structure for Campbell’s aimed at enhancing long-term profitability and is expected to be finalised by the end of the fourth quarter of the 2008 fiscal year. The changes will also include the discontinuation of Arnott’s biscuit and chocolate production at their Miranda plant in Australia – with union approval required in order for them to close the plant (which employs about 150 people). Campbell’s did, however, outline their commitment to the Australian marketplace with their Arnott’s and Campbell’s Soup brands to continue to be the flag bearers for the company in Australia.

Douglas R. Conant, Campbell’s President and Chief Executive Officer, indicated that the global changes were designed to improve efficiency and better attend to consumer needs. “The actions announced today will continue to position Campbell as a high-performing focused food company. Through a relentless focus on our core businesses of simple meals, baked snacks and healthy beverages and by eliminating inefficiencies in our portfolio and operations, we will be able to meet the needs of customers and consumers faster, better and more completely than the competition and create greater value for our shareowners,” he said.

The reduction of Campbell’s interests in Australia follows a recent court battle with the ACCC which found Arnott’s (a brand under the Campbell’s banner) had contradicted the Trade Practices Act by misleading consumers. No further reasons were given by the company for the sale, but greater competition from home brands and the increased focus of consumers on healthy snack options may have influenced their decision.