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Kai Ryssdal: It’s always a little surprising when the news brings you a tidbit of information you didn’t have. Like the fact that Campbell, the soup company, owns Godiva Chocolates. As it happens, Campbell also owns Pepperidge Farm and V8, the vegetable juice. But the company’s decided Godiva is a little too indulgent for the Campbell image. It’s focused on healthy foods now, executives said today. Sinful Belgian-style chocolates just don’t fit that brand image, so Godiva’s for sale. Ashley Milne-Tyte reports.
Ashley Milne-Tyte: Campbell may be forgoing the sweet taste of Belgian chocolate, but critics say it’s salt the company should really be worried about.
Michael Jacobson is executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest:
Michael Jacobson: When you talk about high-sodium foods, you inevitably talk about Campbell Soup. So they’ve been in the spotlight, and that has encouraged them to really make an investment in trying to do research to find out how to lower sodium.
Campbell has reduced the amount of salt in many of its soups and its V8 vegetable juice. So it’s making a decent effort, says Jacobson. Still, it’s got some way to go.
Jacobson: Their Pepperidge Farm breads, of course, have a fair amount of sodium, so it’s not exactly a health-food company. In fact, for something like chicken noodle soup, you practically need a microscope to find the chicken.
As for how well Godiva’s been performing for Campbell, the company doesn’t break out its numbers.
Mitchell Corwin is an analyst for Morningstar. He says premium chocolate sales have been rising by double digits, but Campbell is making the right move by selling Godiva.
Mitchell Corwin: The business doesn’t belong in its portfolio. There aren’t any synergies between the Godiva brand and any of Campbell’s larger brands, including its namesake brand and V8.
Corwin says Godiva could fetch more than a billion dollars. He says there’ll be plenty of buyers who are willing to cash in on consumers’ growing taste for high-end chocolate.
In New York, I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.
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