No taste for Campbell’s soups in Russia

Soup. In Russia, soup is served year around and made from scratch with recipes handed down for generations. Russians enjoy cooking and soup, or суп as it’s spelled in Cyrillic, is a stable at meals all year long and if you’ve tasted soup made in a kitchen from fresh ingredients, then you understand why Russians simply ignored Campbell’s extensive attempts at marketing. Nonetheless, after 4 years Campbell’s Soups is pulling out of Russia.

Campbell’s had done their homework and correctly identified Russia as a prime potential market. Russians consume hot soups in winter and cold soups in summer at nearly every evening meal. So it wasn’t for lack of interest. Frankly, what Campbell’s failed to understand is that food from a can is greeted with suspicion in these parts.

"Soup chik"

Vodka and strawberry jam take the place of chicken soup as a cold remedy so even in the harsh and cold Russian winters, Campbell’s couldn’t make a dent. Local street kiosk vendors and mall cafe’s like супчик (“Soup-chik”) and the more upscale Суп-кафе (“Soup-Cafe”) offer popular soup choices for hungry soup lovers away from home.

From Borsch to fish soups, Russians are true soup lovers and Campbell’s never really stood a chance at winning either loyalties or taste tests. The Mendeleyev Journal has devoted an entire page with recipes of Russian and Ukrainian soup favourites.

Campbells Vice President Denise Morrison told the media that Campbell’s will turn their attention to the Chinese market. Campbell’s is convinced that China represents great opportunities and in hindsight understands that asking Russians to purchase a soup ready-made from a can was a long shot.

The pullout from Russia will mean that Campbell’s will cut 770 jobs worldwide and minimize production at a plant in Michigan. In addition, the new management company intends to cut about 130 positions in the company’s headquarters in Camden (NJ). By reducing operations in Russia and the dismissal of employees worldwide, the company expects to save $ 60 million over the near term.

Below: Menu from a “Soupchik” cafe:


One thought on “No taste for Campbell’s soups in Russia

  1. loquacious7

    I am grateful for your marvelous posts, full of accurate and interesting information.

    Campbell Soup, typical of these times in America, shows a lack of tenacity,while worrying too much about short term profits. But I’m happy that in this instance Western capitalism wasn’t able to subvert Russian culture.


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