What a Letdown: Campbell’s Zigzag on Sodium in Soups

Folks, the chart tells it all. After several years of promoting and pushing low sodium salts, Campbell’s Board of Directors has decided the strategic and widely publicized move was a mistake. Sales of the core soups have been slumping, and the missing salt has been deemed the culprit.

So with a new CEO, the company strategy is changing from “sodium innovation” to “taste-oriented innovation”. And what’s the cheapest way to add taste?

You got it, good old sodium-chloride, better known as salt.

Too much salt (and thus sodium) leads to hypertension and heart disease, so it makes sense to limit intake.

The problem with salt is that we are consuming almost twice the amount in a day that we should be. Almost 70% of the salt in our diet comes from prepared foods such as soups, fast food meals, and savory snacks. Even sweets and breads may contain copious amounts of sodium.

Why do so many foods pack in the salt? because it is a cheap alternative to other ways of making food tasty.

Take soup for example. Why is it that when you prepare a soup at home it tastes so much better than from a can? Even if you are not a famous chef, it tastes an order of magnitude better than a prepared soup. The reason: you used fresh, good quality ingredients. Not so with low cost processed foods.

In order for the companies to be profitable they need to procure the cheapest possible ingredients. They need to skimp on anything that increases the price. We bet that if some companies could sell you water and salt as a soup…they probably would..

What to do at the supermarket:

Get your soup from the produce section – buy veggies and bring them home to throw in a pot with water and spices.

But if you really must buy a prepared soup, chose those with lower than 550mg of sodium per serving.

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  • Sketch

    you can by veggies or do what i prefer to do and BUY veggies… 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=738424687 Mike Tarentino

      I think they are saying that you can get soup in the produce section that is made by veggies… I knew they were tasty but didn’t know they could cook! ;P

  • Sketch

    you can by veggies or do what i prefer to do and BUY veggies… 

  • http://www.weightloss-team.com Ramona

    I’ve eaten “canned” soup for few times and what I remember is that it has A LOT OF SALT. I think there’s nothing to be tasted, but huge amounts of salt. And I actually like my meals salty, but this is way too much.

    As you said, the soup we make at home is amazingly better than this junk. I use fresh ingredients and it tastes superb. And it’s not that hard to make either. I’m still a beginner when it comes to cooking, but my soups aren’t bad at all.

    Why do they make this change? Because they actually don’t care. So is the case with all this junk food that’s being promoted and created. Why bother make something tasty and HEALTHY when you can make billions selling all this junk. If we were more educated and better informed and REFUSED to pay for this, maybe there would be a change. As long as we’re happily paying for foods that ruin our health and waistline, who cares?

    • Gerome

      Ramona! Did you read the article? We did “refuse to pay for this”. And there was a change. Campbells made a lower sodium soup and we refused to buy it. So it was back to what we demanded. It’s fun and easy to lay blame on food companies, but this story could have been just as easily titled “Campbell’s tries to go healthy. Consumer balk and demand crappy food.”

      The people who “don’t care” are the consumers who provide demand for these products. Many people (most?) won’t read nutrition labels, don’t count calories or take the most basic measures to understand nutrition. No food company is obligated to put themselves out of business trying to sell something we won’t buy.

  • http://www.knowfoodnow.com Know Food Now

    Ditto on some of the Safeway soups packaged in containers.  Salt and enough saturated fats that the soup by definition should be solid instead of liquid. http://www.knowfoodnow.com/2011/05/how-to-read-nutrition-facts.html

  • Penny0314

    Well, you are anal retentive on the sodium.  It causes hypertension in SOME people, which, left untreated, leads to heart disease in those people.  There are many people for whom NaCl is not a problem.  For them, while watching sodium levels has some virtue, it is not the nightmare it is for others.  My father was extremely sensitive to Na+ (sodium).  Na+ had no effect whatsoever on my mother’s hypertension, and hasn’t had an effect on many of my patients.  While I agree that we need to get the copious amounts of Na+ out of soups and other foods, the insistence that Na+ affects everyone’s blood pressure is galling and simply not true!!

  • Mnyamaone

    Of course they had to increase the salt. Salt, sugar in various and sundry forms and saturated fats are American staples. People are sooooo addicted that they gladly slurp water and salt and call it soup…

  • Ruth Almon

    With the salt or without the salt, canned soup is never going to be a good thing to eat.
    Thanks, Campbells, but I’ll pass.

  • Tshilson

    If they added potassium as part of the added sodium, would it reduce the health impact?

  • http://profiles.google.com/ceanf9 Matt C

    so offering MORE low sodium soups along with regular soups somehow limits consumer choice? hmm forgive me, i am having trouble understanding the logic behind that sentiment.

    how about this. instead of the soup makers limiting the salt in their products, individuals use a little self control, and limit their own sodium intake. i know, i know a crazy concept!