This holiday season, Campbell Soup is testing a variety of chicken soup that only contains 20 ingredients instead of the standard 30. The new recipe will be featured in a "Star Wars"-themed soup and will help close "the gap between the kitchen and our plants," according to Denise M. Morrison, chief executive of Campbell.
In an effort to align with changing consumer preferences, most of the remaining ingredients are standard items that can be found in a kitchen.
“There are 80 million millennials now, and they’re shopping and thinking differently about food and in a way that is influential,” Morrison told the New York Times.
Along with eliminating monosodium glutamate (MSG), a variety of ingredients from potassium chloride to celery—yes celery—did not make the cut. A spokeswoman told the Times that celery was eliminated due to unfavorable taste-testing. Onions were also eliminated, which rubbed some nutritionists the wrong way.
"I’m all for stripped-down ingredients and commend Campbell for eliminating flavoring chemicals like monosodium glutamate,” dietitian Shira Lenchewski told Yahoo Health. “However, their statement about ‘closing the gap between the kitchen and our plants,’ feels misleading given celery and onion were some of the other ingredients that were eliminated.”
Carrots, onion extract, flavoring and sugar remain as ingredients while water, dehydrated onions and dehydrated chicken broth have been added.
As for when these changes might be rolled out into the iconic red and white chicken noodle soup—which is about to turn 82 years old—it's too early to say.
"This is the first step in our journey and we are currently working on a number of our recipes, but it's too soon to give any definite timing on when changes may be made to the classic red & white chicken noodle soup," spokeswoman Anna Burr told NPR.
Campbell's soup sales have been "soft" in recent times according to MarketWatch, which writes that while the change in recipe could disturb some of the soup's biggest advocates, it might be worth the gamble. Erin Lash told MarketWatch that the slight decline in Campbell's condensed soup can be partly "attributed to consumers’ desire to shop at the perimeter of the grocery store, where there are perceived to be fresher and healthier options, rather than in the center aisles."
According to the New York Times, Campbell's is also toying with the classic tomato soup recipe to try and eliminate corn syrup.