After a tour of New York City's food trucks, Campbell's executive chef Thomas Griffiths even began toying with the idea of incorporating kimchee — the pungent pickled vegetable dish from Korea — into a soup. But he knows that will be an acquired taste.
"With something like kimchee, well, that might take a little while," Griffiths said.
The field work led executives to two seemingly divergent conclusions: First, cuisines once considered exotic —Thai, Indian, Brazilian — have become the norm. At the same time, years of dining out mean younger consumers aren't as skilled at making meals from scratch, particularly when it comes to those very ethnic flavors.
"They can't replicate the foods they enjoy when they go out," said Darren Serrao, who heads innovation for Campbell.
That realization inspired Campbell's Go plastic soup pouches, which come in flavors such as Coconut Curry, Creamy Red Pepper and Golden Lentil. Consumers tear open the pouch, stick the bag in the microwave for about two-and-a-half minutes then pour the soup into a bowl.
For older Millennials who may just be starting families or advancing in their careers, the company created Skillet sauces in flavors such as Green Thai Curry and Creamy Chipotle. The directions are simple: Heat up some protein and vegetables. Mix in the sauce. Serve with rice or pasta.
The idea is to give consumers the sense that they're creating their own dishes, without them having to shop for hard-to-find ingredients or do too much tedious prep work.
And then there's the can. Red and white with the distinctive cursive lettering — immortalized by Andy Warhol —it has become a piece of Americana.
"For many millions of people, the can is a very sensible package," said Mary Gregg, who heads packaging for North America. "It's been around for years and people are very comfortable with it."