September 2012

International Markets Bureau

Unless otherwise stated, all of the information in this report was derived from the NPD Group's National Eating Trends database, updated to November 2010, and reflects the eatings (defined by NPD as the number of times any particular category/item is eaten by an individual in a specified location or time period) of a product at home, or carried away from home. This report does not reflect purchases of food products made through foodservice establishments, or the consumption thereof. NPD monitors the eating habits and attitudes of American consumers by surveying 5000 individuals reporting on 14-day's continuous consumption of all meals and snacks.


  • In 2011, soup in the United States (U.S.) had a market size of US$4.3 billion. Soup is forecast to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1%, reaching approximately US$4.6 billion in 2016 (Euromonitor International, July 2011).
  • While canned/preserved soup has the largest market size, chilled soup experienced the largest value sales growth, at 7% in 2011. This is likely because chilled soup is perceived to be fresher and healthier than canned varieties (Euromonitor International, November 2011).
  • Retail volume sales of soup have slowly decreased since 2008. In 2011, soup had a market size of around 1.3 million tonnes. This is expected to drop to 1.2 million tonnes by 2016, largely as a result of decreases in the canned/preserved and frozen soup categories (Euromonitor International, July 2011).
  • Around 91% of participants in a Mintel consumer survey indicated that they perceived soup to be a good item to keep in the home in case they need it, and 80% of participants indicated that they purchase soup. Wet soup was consumed by 78% of participants, compared to 48% who consumed dry soup. The average number of cans consumed per week by survey participants was 3.8 (Mintel, April 2012).
Value of U.S. Retail Sales of Soup, $US millions, Historic/Forecast
  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Soup 4,348.3 4,392.5 4,448.5 4,485.3 4,519.8 4,568.8
Canned/preserved soup 3,595.7 3,617.7 3,650.9 3,663.7 3,673.5 3,694.9
Chilled soup 182.1 194.9 208.1 221.5 235.7 250.5
Dehydrated soup 353.8 354.9 355.8 356.6 357.0 358.6
Frozen soup 27.4 26.4 25.5 24.6 23.6 22.6
Instant soup 47.8 46.8 45.9 45.0 43.9 43.1
UHT soup (condensed or ready-to-eat) 141.5 151.8 162.4 174.0 186.0 199.2

Source: Euromonitor International, July 2011.

Core Markets (at least 20% above average consumption rate)

  • Consumers aged 65 and over (particularly females);
  • Adult females (especially aged 44-54 and 65+ years);
  • Households with an annual income under $10,000;
  • Single-person households;
  • Affluent singles;
  • Single active seniors; and
  • Hispanic consumers.

Underdeveloped Markets (at least 20% below average consumption rate)

  • Affluent traditional families;
  • Working parents; and
  • Households with an annual income between US$50,000-US$59,999.


  • Soup consumption occurs mostly in the home as a main meal, with 94.3% of eatings. Only 4.2% of eatings occurred as carried meals and snacks.
  • It is most popular at lunch, with 55.7% of eatings, compared to 40.8% of eatings at dinner.


  • Soup is more often consumed in the winter months, with 31% of eatings; however, 26% of eatings and 25% of eatings occur in the fall and spring months, respectively. Only 17% of eatings occur in the summer months.
  • Soup consumption is slightly higher during the week than on weekends. The percentage of eatings each day is between 14%-16.6% from Monday to Thursday, and around 13% from Friday to Sunday.


  • Soup is commonly consumed as a main dish, with 72.5% of eatings. It is also consumed as a side dish and an appetizer, with 15.5% and 2.5% of eatings, respectively.
  • According to a Mintel survey, 51% of respondents indicated that they use soup as a cooking ingredient (Mintel, April 2012).


Unites States Census Regions: Description of this image follows

Unites States Census Regions - New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont), Mid-Atlantic (New Jersey , New York, Pennsylvania), South Atlantic (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, District of Columbia), East North Central ( Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin), East South Central (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee), West North Central (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota), West South Central (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas), Mountain (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Utah), Pacific (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington)

Source: NPD Group.

North East - New England 4.9
North East - Mid-Atlantic 14.5
Central - West North Central 19.5
Central - East North Central 8.8
South - South Atlantic 16.2
South - East South Central 9.4
South - West South Central 8.8
West - Mountain 8.3
West - Pacific 6.0

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.


  • Warm preparation methods were used for 91.8% of eatings, while 8% of eatings required no preparation method.
  • The most popular appliances used were the stove top for warming, heating, boiling, or simmering (60% of eatings), the microwave (28.9% of eatings), and a crock pot, with 1.2% of eatings.


  • In 2010, Canada exported over US$128.5 million of soups, broths, and preparations thereof to the United States, an increase from the approximately US$96.8 million exported in 2001.
  • The East North Central region received the most exports, at around US$65.4 million.

Canadian Soup Exports to the Continental1 U.S. by Region, 2001 and 2010

Exports: Description of this image follows.

Canadian Soup Exports to the Continental United States by Region, 2001 and 2010 (Million $ Canadian): West 15(2001) 17(2010), Central 49(2001) 67(2010), North East 29(2001) 20(2010), South 4(2001) 21(2010), Total 96(2001) 130(2010)

Source: Statistics Canada.

1. For the purposes of this report, the continental United States does not include Maryland, Washington (Distict of Columbia) or Delaware, to remain consistent with NPD data collection.

Note: The regions in this graphic are defined by Statistics Canada as per the United States Census Bureau. A breakdown by state is available at Population shares for the regions were as follows:  2001: North East – 19%, Central – 23%, South – 36%, West – 23%. 2010: North East – 18%, Central – 22%, South – 32%, West – 23%.


According to the Mintel Global New Products Database (2012), between May 2011 and May 2012 there were 254 products launched in the U.S. under the soup category, with 193 in the wet soup sub-category and 61 in the dry soup sub-category.

Examples of soup product launches include:

  • Savoury Soups Chicken and Cilantro Wonton Soup was launched by Annie Chun's in February 2012. This product contains chicken wontons (made with antibiotic-free, fully cooked chicken, cabbage, cilantro and green onions), broccoli, and carrots in an organic chicken broth. It claims to be a good source of vitamin C and A, and free of preservatives, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and milk. This microwaveable product also claims to be ready to eat in three minutes and comes in an environmentally friendly, Bisphenol A-free plastic bowl.
  • Chunky Hearty Italian-Style Wedding Soup was launched by Campbell's Soup in March 2012. This product contains meatballs, spinach, and carrots in a chicken broth, among other ingredients, such as lower-sodium sea salt. It claims to be good for the heart, as it is a source of fibre, while low in fat (including trans and saturated fats) and cholesterol. This product is certified by the American Heart Association and comes in a recyclable container.
  • Ortega Tortilla Soup was launched by B & G Foods in October 2011. This product is made Mexican-style with tomatoes, tortillas, chipotle, and cilantro. It claims to be all-natural and kosher-certified. Other varieties include Black Bean Soup.
  • New England Lobster Bisque was launched by Bar Harbour Foods in June 2011. This all-natural product contains minced lobster meat, milk, and sherry, among other ingredients. It claims to be free of trans fats, MSG, and artificial preservatives. This product is easy to use, as it is ready to eat once heated. Packaging is environmentally-friendly, as the can is recyclable and the label is printed using vegetable inks on certified Green Seal paper.
  • Pacific Natural Foods Organic Vegetable Broth was launched by Pacific Foods of Oregon in June 2011. This product contains organic carrots, tomatoes, onions, leeks, garlic, and other herbs and spices. According to the manufacturer, the organic and natural ingredients are of the highest quality from guaranteed sources. This product claims to be environmentally friendly, gluten-free, and certified organic and kosher by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is easy to use, as it comes already prepared in four individual serving sachets which require heating only.

Source for all: Mintel, GNDP 2012


  • Of the 254 products launched in the U.S. between May 2011 and May 2012, 121 were new varieties or range extensions, 82 were new products, 34 had new packaging, 13 were a re-launch, and 4 had a new formulation.
  • Most of these products were shelf stable (202 products), yet 39 products were chilled and 13 products were frozen.
  • The top five flavours were chicken (39 products), tomato (14 products), vegetable (11 products), clam (9 products), and tomato & basil (8 products).
  • The top five claims were microwaveable (134 products), ease of use (71 products), no additives/preservatives (67 products), all natural product (56 products), and environmentally friendly package (50 products).
  • Popular packaging included cans, tubs, and cartons.

Top Five Claims, Product Launches in the U.S., May 2011-May 2012 (Number of Products)

  • Microwaveable 230
  • Ease of Use 70
  • No additives/preservatives 66
  • All natural product 57
  • Environmentally friendly package 50

Source: Mintel GNPD, 2012.

Package Type, Product Launches in the U.S., May 2011-May 2012

  • Can 33%
  • Carton 16%
  • Composite 0%
  • Flexible 8%
  • Flexible sachet 6%
  • Flexible stand-up pouch 4%
  • Jar 6%
  • Tray 3%
  • Tub 22%

Source: Mintel GNPD, 2012.


All the information in this section of the report was derived from Mintel, April 2012.

Retaining Key Markets (targeting those who currently report high consumption rates)

  • Important markets with high soup consumption rates include consumers over 65, single-person households, and Hispanic consumers, among others. According to Mintel, seniors are more likely to know which flavor and which brand they will buy before they go to a store, suggesting that this market is best targeted by maintaining the quality of popular flavours and recipes, while generating brand loyalty. As these consumers are also concerned with their health, recipe innovation to increase health benefits, such as lower sodium, and positive messaging will also appeal to this market.
  • Many singles are between the ages of 18-34. This age demographic is more interested in buying natural, organic, or protein-rich soup, and they are less interested in fat, salt, or caloric content. Cream soups and trendy toppings, such as tortilla chips or croutons, may appeal to this market. This group is also more likely to eat soup as a snack (especially men). Smaller portions and convenient formats, perhaps distributed through convenience stores, may increase consumption for these consumers.
  • Hispanic consumers purchase more dry soup than other consumers; therefore, dry soup manufacturers should keep their tastes in mind. This group also has one of the fastest growing obesity rates in the U.S., making healthy living solutions another important way to target this market.

Extending the Market (targeting those who currently report mid-range to low consumption rates)

  • To boost soup sales in terms of value and volume, it will be important to extend the market to consumers with low soup consumption, such as affluent traditional families and working parents, and consumers with average consumption, such as households with children, higher-income households, and other ethnic groups.
  • Refrigerated and frozen soups appeal to Asian consumers, households with children, and higher-income households. Recipe innovation in this category in terms of regional or ethnic flavours and premium ingredients may increase the appeal of these soup products, which are already perceived as fresher and healthier. Better placement in retail channels will allow this type of soup to compete better with fresh deli soups.
  • With healthy attributes, such as lower fat and fewer calories, soup can be positioned as part of a healthy weight-loss regime. This may appeal to many consumers, including parents concerned with child obesity, who would be interested in the ‘stealth health' benefits soup has to offer. New creative soup kits could also increase soup consumption in households with children.
  • Continued recipe innovation in terms of sodium, gluten, and calorie reduction, as well as higher fibre, is also expected to be of interest to Black consumers.
  • Finally, marketing should encourage year-round consumption of soup by promoting its use as a cooking ingredient or as a snack between meals.


  • Euromonitor International. Packaged Food: Market Sizes. (July 2011).
  • Euromonitor International. Soup in the U.S. (November 2011).
  • Mintel Group. Soup-U.S. (April 2012).
  • Mintel Global New Products Database. (2012).
  • The NPD Group National Eating Trends database, for the year ending November 2010.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (2012).

The Government of Canada has prepared this report based on primary and secondary sources of information. Although every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada assumes no liability for any actions taken based on the
information contained herein.

For more information, or to request additional copies or an alternate format of this publication, please email or contact the International Markets Bureau - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 1341 Baseline Road, Tower 5, 4th floor, Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0C5

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