Canned Specialties

SIC 2032

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This category covers establishments primarily engaged in canning specialty products, such as baby foods, nationality specialty foods, and soups, except seafood.

Industry Snapshot

Cans have unquestioned advantages as food containers. Retailers can display them easily and attractively, and the contents are protected from contamination because they are hermetically sealed. Cans also prevent undesirable fluctuations in moisture content; the absorption of oxygen, gases, and undesirable odors; and exposure to light, and enable high-speed filling, sealing, and casing.

Canned foods, an $8.7 billion industry in 2010, suffered a decline at the beginning of the 1990s as consumers turned to fresh and frozen products in search of healthier foods. However, nutritional labeling and healthier canned products featuring lower salt and lighter syrups helped to work against the trend. Soup led the category in sales, with condensed soup as the best-selling canned food item on the shelf. Ethnic foods were the fastest growing sector of the industry. The specialty canned goods category was valued at a total $7.7 million.

Background and Development

Compared to other methods of food preservation, canning is a recent development. Freezing goes back to the Ice Age, and smoking and drying were used before recorded history. Canning was not used as a method of food preservation until the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

Nicholas Appert, a French confectioner and chef, theorized in 1795 that if food is heated in a container with no air in it, the food will not spoil. He worked on his theory for 14 years, cooking foods in bottles cork-stoppered bottles in boiling water. Sent around the world on sailing ships, Appert's preserved fruits and vegetables remained wholesome. The term canning came to mean sterilizing food by heat and sealing it in airtight containers, either metal or glass, at an individual's home or in a processing plant.

In 1810, Peter Durand, an English merchant, developed tin canisters to use for preserving foods. The first U.S. patent for tin containers was granted in 1825. At first, cans were made by hand, and even an expert in the process could turn out only five or six per hour.

The Civil War accelerated the need for canned foods and, by the end of the war, production of canned foods had increased six times and Americans had learned to trust them. The importance of canned foods to the military was underscored again during World War II, when two-thirds of the food supplies for the U.S. and Allied forces came in cans. When the Japanese capture of Malaya cut off important sources of tin, conservation of the metal in the United States became critical, and glass containers, which had always been used for some foods, were used to replace tin cans.

Technological advances in the canning industry accelerated after the Civil War. The invention of the retort, or pressure cooker, in 1874 made it possible to control cooking temperatures for the sealed cans. The 1900 invention of the so-called sanitary can, a cylindrical can with an open top, enabled canners to deposit larger food pieces without the damage that occurred when filling the former hole-and-cap can. The lid for the new can could be attached mechanically, without the solder seal coming into contact with the food. Near the end of the twentieth century, when consumers were concerned about lead in food, tin replaced lead in soldering. Other packaging developments included the flexible pouch for low-acid foods and cans made of aluminum and of steel.

U.S. canned food manufacturers looked increasingly to international markets for growth. For example, China was considered an emerging canned food market in the early and mid-2000s, with canned food consumption growing exponentially.

The canned food industry received a public relations boost in August 2003 when a blackout in the Northeastern and Midwestern states and eastern Canada left residents without power for several days. Food spoilage losses were estimated between $350 million and $1 billion, according to the Anderson Economic Group.

Canned Soups.
Sales of canned soup totaled $2.6 billion in 1995, with condensed versions accounting for more than $1.8 billion. Sales of single-serving cans were just over $800 million. The canned soup market was huge, with sales coming from such commercial outlets as restaurants, cafeterias, fast-food chains, and non-commercial institutions, including schools, hospitals, and the military.

"Healthy" was the buzz word in canned soups in the 1990s. Campbell Soup Company, long the industry leader, started the decade with the launch of 11 soups under the Healthy Request label.

ConAgra, Inc., which was the second largest food company in the United States, began offering the Healthy Choice line of soups. Even with no experience in soups, ConAgra was optimistic about its low-sodium, low-fat, low-cholesterol product.

Pritikin Systems, a division of Quaker Oats, introduced a Healthy Soups line, while Pet, Inc., maker of Progresso soups, lowered salt in its Sodium Watch Soups. Pet's Progresso brand continued to capitalize on eating trends in the 1990s with six ready-to-serve canned soups containing pasta combined with a flavorful broth and plenty of vegetables.

In the late 1990s, Campbell introduced ready-to-serve soup in glass jars and embarked on a $15-million advertising campaign to promote the new line. The canned soup market reflected the emphasis on fresh appearance and flavor, as well as healthier formulations with low sodium, low fat, and no MSG, and they were more appealing than ever. Vegetable broths also increased in popularity as consumers began to focus increasingly on healthy eating. Sales for reduced-sodium soups were $650 million during 2007. At the other end of the marketing spectrum, all major soup makers began marketing "hearty" soups, aimed at providing a more filling, satisfying meal and often featuring larger chunks of ingredients and larger portions.

Some analysts credited the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States for the boost in canned food sales as consumers began to maintain food reserves at home. Canned soup sales grew 7 percent to $3.28 billion in 2001. One sector that experienced particularly rapid growth in the early 2000s was ready-to-serve soup, particularly private label brands, which jumped 62.3 percent in 2001.

Baby Foods.
By 1995, baby food sales in the United States reached $1 billion. The major manufacturers spent much of the 1990s cutting prices to win back customers who had switched to value-priced store brands. Additional customers had been lost when the Center for Science in the Public Interest admonished several top brands for having excessive water and fillers in their baby foods.

In response to the criticism, Gerber Products Company, the leader in the category, introduced improved versions of its core foods that eliminated added starch or sugar. The company also targeted the Hispanic market with a line of Tropical Baby Foods.

Beech-Nut, a division of St. Louis, Missouri-based Ralston-Purina, introduced a chemical and pesticide-free, organic Special Harvest line of fruits, vegetables, cereals, dinners, and juices in 1991, but poor sales caused the company to abandon the line two years later. Several independent companies marketing organic baby foods appeared in the 1990s, the most notable of which were Earth's Best and Growing Healthy, Inc. In spite of the popularity of health foods among the general public, the market for infant health foods was slow to catch on. One reason was fierce brand loyalty among consumers.

According to the Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), U.S. baby food outsold all food categories for product introductions in 2006 with 116 new product offerings compared to 49 in 2005, for an increase of 136.7 percent. However, by the late 2000s, baby food had expanded well beyond "jarred food." to include a wide array of offerings in multiple packing options. By 2008, jarred baby food as a market definition was replaced by prepared baby food.

Ethnic Foods.
The market for ethnic foods grew an average of 9.4 percent annually in the 1990s. Discounted and private label products, as well as new products geared toward niche markets, crowded supermarket shelves in the 1990s, and many famous long-standing brands began to disappear. La Choy and Chun King were among the threatened brands, as competition from fresh Chinese food increased.

Mexican specialties and southern soul food were the top sellers in the 1990s. Their growth spurred the growth of minority-owned businesses such as Goya Foods, Glory Foods, and Garcia Canning Co.

Canned pasta faced tough competition from the dried and fresh pasta industries. The Chef Boyardee brand of canned spaghetti was the industry leader with a 59 percent share of the market by the mid-1990s. Acquired by International Home Foods in 1996 from long-time parent American Home Food Products, Chef Boyardee launched ABCs and 123s pasta shapes with an aggressive media campaign. Campbell Soup's Franco-American brand was second with a 36 percent share. In the late 1990s, Franco-American promoted its Superiore variety in an effort to attract more adult consumers.

Current Conditions

In early 2009, canned Mexican foods represented 34.4 percent of the market, with sales of $708.3 million. Canned and jarred ethnic foods had sales of $158 million. Other industry categories were canned and jarred baby foods,canned and jarred Italian foods, and canned and jarred Chinese foods, which shipped $57.7 million in products.

Sales of canned soup totaled $7.5 billion in 2009; 61 percent of sales originated in U.S. supermarkets, drugstores, and mass merchandisers. Sales in Wal-Mart, club stores, and dollar stores totaled $2.9 billion. The canned soup sector has three primary product offerings: ready to serve (RTS), condensed, and broth. RTS is the largest category. Smaller segments included thse that are not usually canned: dry soup mixes, Ramen, and refrigerated and frozen soup products. Besides grocery stores and big box outlets, soups are found in commercial outlets as restaurants, cafeterias, fast-food chains, and non-commercial institutions, including schools, hospitals, and the military.

The baby food market was highly concentrated in the late 2000s. If Stonyfield, maker of baby yogurt, was excluded from the statistics, Gerber held 80 percent of the baby food market share in the late 2000s. Following at a distance were Beech-Nut with 11 percent, Earth's Best with five percent, and Nature's Goodness with two percent.

The canned food industry received bad press in December 2009 when Consumer Reports released a report that stated that it found the chemical Bisphenol A, used in food can liners, in a number of common foods, including Campbell and Progresso soups, Starkist tuna, Bush's baked beans, and Similac baby formula. Some studies have linked Bisphenol A to reproductive abnormalities and a heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, and heart disease.

According to industry statistics, in 2010 approximately 737 establishments employed more than 20,470 people. The value of shipments exceeded $8.7 billion annually. Canned soups and stews accounted for nearly half of that total, followed by canned baby foods and canned ethnic foods. Although the canned specialties category constituted only 144 establishments in 2010, revenues totaled $7.7 million. California held 17.8 percent of industry market share, followed by Texas with 9.9 percent, New York with 5.3 percent, and Florida with 4.6 percent.

Industry Leaders

Campbell Soup Company.
The undisputed leader of the industry throughout its long history, Campbell Soup Company sold five billion cans of soup a year, representing nearly half of all soup sales. Founded in 1869 by Joseph Campbell, a fruit merchant, and Abram Anderson, an ice box manufacturer, the company reported sales of $7.59 billion for 2009, much of which came from soup.

Perhaps no event in Campbell's long history was more momentous than the arrival in 1897 of a 24 year-old chemist, Dr. John T. Dorrance, who signed on at a salary of $7.50 per week. When he died 33 years later, he was sole owner of the company and had amassed a personal fortune of $115 million, an amount equal to $850 million in the 1990s. Dorrance's descendants owned about 50 percent of the company.

Young Dorrance was a man with an idea: condensed soup. When he joined Campbell Soup Company, soup was sold in 32-ounce cans for about 30 cents. Since soup was made mostly of water, he reasoned, the removal of water would save on shipping, cans, and weight. Dorrance introduced condensed soups in ten and a half ounce cans selling for 10 cents. To win over consumers who tended not to trust the quality of such a low-cost product, he spent heavily on advertising and promotion. In 1990, Campbell produced its 20-billionth can of condensed tomato soup.

Campbell Soup Company's marketing high points include the 1904 introduction of the enduring image of the Campbell kids, created by Philadelphia artist Grace Gebbie Drayton. In the 1930s, the slogan "M'm! M'm! Good!" entered the nation's consciousness when Campbell sponsored the "Amos 'n' Andy" and "George Burns and Gracie Allen" radio shows.

In 2008, Campbell continued to expand its soup line, purchasing the Wolfgang Puck soup line for $10 million. The company also planned a marketing campaign to introduce the line into store shelves. As the largest soup manufacturer in the United States, Campbell led the way in the canned soup industry, especially for chicken noodle, tomato, and cream of mushroom varieties.

Gerber Products Company.
A symbol of quality and trust, Gerber has a selection of more than 190 foods. The Gerber baby was adopted as an official trademark in 1931, three years after Fremont Canning Company of Fremont, Michigan, began pureeing foods for babies. Commercial artist Dorothy Hope Smith created the unfinished charcoal sketch of a neighbor's child, who was the first Gerber baby. In 2003, in an effort to cut costs, the company which had been acquired by Nestle S.A. in 2007, began switching its primary packaging material from glass to plastic. By the late 2000s, Gerber was marketing an increasing diverse line of baby foods, packaged in a variety of manners besides the traditional glass jar.

© COPYRIGHT 2018 The Gale Group, Inc. This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group. For permission to reuse this article, contact the Copyright Clearance Center.

News and information about Canned Specialties

More is more for Sandwich Fair winner
The Beacon News - Aurora (IL); September 5, 2014; 700+ words
...all year long. | Judy Buchenot~For Sun-Times Media Donna Van Evercooren plans to enter several of her home-canned specialties in the Sandwich Fair. | Judy Buchenot~For Sun-Times Media Rafal OlechowskiPull Quote: Culinary Cue Take notes...
Research and Markets Adds Report: 'Specialty Canning Industry in the U.S. and Its International Trade [2012 Q2 Release]'
Manufacturing Close-Up; May 2, 2012; 588 words
...Manufacturing Subsector (311), and the Manufacturing Sector (31-33). Its SIC equivalent code is: 2032 - Canned Specialties (except canned puddings). Report Summary This industry report contains 163 pages of in-depth market research...
Research and Markets Adds Report: All Other Miscellaneous Food Manufacturing Industry in the U.S. and Its International Trade
Food & Beverage Close-Up; September 7, 2010; 700+ words
...31- 33). Its SIC equivalent codes are: 2015 - Poultry Slaughtering and Processing (egg processing); 2032 - Canned Specialties (canned puddings); 2034 - Dried and Dehydrated Fruits, Vegetables, and Soup Mixes (soup mixes made from purchased...
Research and Markets Offers Report: Specialty Canning Industry in the U.S. and its International Trade [2012 Q2 Release].(Report)
Entertainment Close-up; May 5, 2012; 535 words
...Manufacturing Subsector (311), and the Manufacturing Sector (31-33). Its SIC equivalent code is: 2032 - Canned Specialties (except canned puddings). Report Summary This industry report contains 163 pages of in-depth market research...
Tips for mailing food packages overseas
Post-Tribune (IN); November 28, 2012; 700+ words
...Condiments such as hot sauce and Cajun seasonings in packets or unbreakable jars are useful for spice lovers.• Canned specialties such as corned beef, anchovies, shrimp, dips and cracker spreads make nice treats. Recipients should be cautioned not to use...
Research and Markets Adds Report: All Other Miscellaneous Food Manufacturing Industry in the U.S. and Its International Trade.(Report)
Food & Beverage Close-Up; September 7, 2010; 700+ words
...31-33). Its SIC equivalent codes are: 2015 - Poultry Slaughtering and Processing (egg processing); 2032 - Canned Specialties (canned puddings); 2034 - Dried and Dehydrated Fruits, Vegetables, and Soup Mixes (soup mixes made from purchased...
Research and Markets Offers Report: All Other Miscellaneous Food Manufacturing Industry in the U.S. and Its International Trade.(Report)
Entertainment Close-up; September 10, 2010; 700+ words
...31-33). Its SIC equivalent codes are: 2015 - Poultry Slaughtering and Processing (egg processing); 2032 - Canned Specialties (canned puddings); 2034 - Dried and Dehydrated Fruits, Vegetables, and Soup Mixes (soup mixes made from purchased...
Springtime in Provence. (Timeless Roads of the Mideast & Mediterranean).
International Travel News; February 1, 2003; 700+ words
...middle of this large, open, asymmetrical square is jammed with booths highlighting beautiful produce, meats and canned specialties, e.g., pates and jellies. Surrounding this center is a covered walkway where other merchants sell handicrafts...

Search all articles about Canned Specialties