Campbell's Soup to Continue Russian Expansion

Campbell Soup Co.'s top executives said Tuesday that the company will keep expanding in emerging markets like Russia and China.

But the soup maker said it will pace its investments in those emerging markets to be in line with the slumping worldwide economy, which is making consumers spend more cautiously.

President and chief executive Douglas Conant told analysts at a meeting Tuesday that Russia and China represent about half the world's soup consumption, and the venerable soup maker is laying the groundwork to take the top slots in those markets.

"We have an opportunity to establish a pre-eminent position in both markets," he said at the meeting, which was broadcast online.

Chief financial officer Craig Owens said the company hasn't seen big slowdowns in spending in emerging markets. He said the company is committed to long-term growth there, but it will keep an eye on the economy and adjust its plans accordingly.

"Our intention is to continue our work there but to stay flexible and continue to watch those markets and be prepared to pace our investments," he said.

Campbell began selling soup in Russia and China in the fall of 2007, trying to tap into those large markets where homemade soup is an ingrained part of the culture.

The economic slowdown, however, has raised questions about how well some consumer products might do in emerging markets.

(AP, Reuters)