• Campbell's ready-to-eat soups have long been a favorite survival food
  • Campbell's sees an uptick in soup demand amid fears of the COVID-19 outbreak
  • Campbell's is ramping-up production to meet this rising demand

UPDATE: This article has been updated to clarify statements made by The Campbell Soup Company.

Long considered a staple survival food, Campbell's ready-to-eat soups and canned meals are seeing an uptick in demand from retailers as American families stock-up on the iconic product in anticipation of food shortages caused by the raging COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.

The Campbell Soup Company based in Camden, New Jersey is booting production of a number of its products to address a surprising rising demand amid the growing spread of COVID-19. The outbreak has hard hit California, Washington and New York states and has sickened 118 persons throughout the country.

Industry analysts said consumers are now stockpiling Campbell's canned soup and other shelf-stable foods to hedge against what they fear will be massive food shortages. This stockpiling is particularly evident among consumers living in COVID-19 hit areas such as California. Hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies such as bleach are also seeing a sales surge.

Campbell’s said it's noticed an uptick in demand from both online and brick-and-mortar retailers over the weekend. CEO Mark Clouse said Campbell's is ramping-up ready-to-eat soup production in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The company is also trying to find alternative sources or ingredients to maintain production.

“We made the decision last week to up production in certain areas where we’re using a little bit the analogy of weather or natural disasters,” said Clouse to CNBC. “Where do we see demand coming in a greater rate? And we’ve upped that level of production to be able to maximize our inventory to be prepared for whatever unfolds here.”

Clouse said the company is talking to retailers to better understand which of the company's products is most in demand. He said it's still too early to call the sudden uptick a trend, however.

Campbell's is also preparing to prevent supply chain disruption for Campbell’s Soup and for its other products such as Goldfish crackers and Milano cookies. The company is fortunate only 10% of its products are sourced outside the U.S. Less than 2% of its products are outsourced to China.

Campbell’s stock, which had a market value of $15.9 billion as of Wednesday, closed up 10.1% at $52.72 after its second-quarter earnings topped estimates and it raised its full-year outlook. Its share price is rising as investors anticipate increased demand for its ready-to-eat soups due to the outbreak.

Campbell's Soup Co.
Campbell's condensed, ready-to-serve soups and broth businesses contributed to the company's double-digit sales growth. Reuters