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Now Even Canned Soup Too Expensive for American Consumers

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Well, friends -- it's actually come to this:

The Campbell Soup Company posted an 11 percent increase in quarterly income on Monday as increased snack sales offset a decline in soup sales in the United States.

Campbell said its soup sales declined as it ended discounts and consumers seemed to be stocking up less.

Yes, soup. Canned soup. The official "meal" of hard times, the Great Depression, namesake of the soup line, has priced itself right out of the average family's pantry. And lest one think this is occurring because of some sort of sudden economic shock, it's not.

During a February 2010 earnings call, Campbell CEO Douglas Conant announced an 8% drop in sales (and this was during the period including late fall and winter) as shoppers were, as Reuters reported, "lured by other prepared foods such as frozen dinners, that may be promoted at lower prices."

"The issue is not within soup, it's beyond soup, and we just have to lift our game up, which we will do," Conant said. "I don't want to have another call like this."

Yesterday, Doug Conant had another call like that.

US soup sales (including the sauce and beverage segments) were again down 8%. However, "its overall results beat expectations as its baked goods and snacks, which include Pepperidge Farm products, Goldfish crackers and Milano cookies, sold well," according to the New York Times.

Which is great news -- at least people are eating...something. And, as long as they're ingesting just enough to keep themselves alive, House Republicans figure it's high time to cut 12% from the federal food stamp program.

Then watch what happens to Campbell's soup sales.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.