June 24

Campbell Soup

In the morning, everybody traveled differently to Campbell Soup, also called Campbell’s, where we were welcomed by the Dutchman Jan Ouwehand. The meeting was kicked off with a nice breakfast of fruit, salad and sandwiches. During breakfast Jan told how he started at the University of Delft, then worked at Unilever R&D in Vlaardingen (NL), moved to Scotland, China and the United Kingdom to work for this same company. When the soup department of Unilever was taken over by Campbell’s, he moved to Toronto. So he worked really all over the world. After everybody finished his breakfast and was saturated, we got an introduction about the company Campbell Soup. Their mission is to build world’s most extraordinary food company by nourishing people’s lives everywhere, every day. Next to soup they also make other products, like fruit juices and muesli, but soup is their main focus. In Canada they own 65% of the soup market. The last years they are paying more attention on health and wellness, especially on lowering the sodium content of their products, since this topic is very popular in North America. But lowering the sodium concentration results in an increased growth of microorganisms and it negatively influences the taste of the products. A few solutions to this are, using sea salt or potassium chloride instead off sodium chloride, and addition of bitter blockers or sodium enhancers. Campbell’s is awarded by several health institutes for their work on lowering the sodium content in their products.
Since Campbell’s exports a lot of their products to the USA, safety and keeping track of the origin of their ingredients is very important. Furthermore, the declaration of the ingredients and possible allergens has to be very accurate. Compared to Europe, this has to be more detailed in North America. In contrast to the USA, they are also strict when it comes to health claims of a product, in Canada. Of course the opinion of the consumer is also important for Campbell’s. They try to measure these by interviews spread by the internet. In addition, the opinion of their own employees about Campbell’s products is determined and taken into account by designing new products and creating new goals. After this overview of the main concerns of Campbell’s, we got a plant tour around the soup plant. First we saw how the ingredients, like the vegetables are washed and sliced. Then how the ingredients are mixed and put into the cans. They try to put the same about of every ingredient in every can. Subsequently the filled cans were pasteurized, wrapped and shipped. After the plant tour, a nice lunch with of course soup and delicious chocolate cake, was waiting for us. There were also some Campbell Soup gadgets. During the lunch, Tjakko and Ineke gave a presentation.


After the lunch we all went by car to Unilever, where we were welcomed by Stand Reid. Unilever is an international company that handles hundreds of consumer food and home/personal care products. The plant in Rexdale mainly produces margarine. The main starting materials of margarine are oil (l), fat (s) and water. First the oil and fat are melted at 60ºC, then the oil phase and water phase are put together batch by batch and this emulsion is mixed at 45 to 50 ºC. When the emulsion has the right composition, it is cooled down. Because of the cooling, crystals can be formed and these make the margarine less spreadable. Therefore, after the cooling the margarine is stirred to break down the crystals, and then the margarine can be put into the barrels. At the Unilever plant in Rexdale they have a small R&D department that mainly focuses on product quality, on innovation, which means for this plant adaption of a product to the Canadian market, and they try to lower the cost of the ingredients and investigate if it is possible to reuse waste products or if these are useful for other plants. After the introduction about producing margarine and about their research department, Heidy and Ida gave a presentation and we got a plant tour where we could see the whole process by ourselves. After the visit to Unilever we went together with some people of Unilever for a nice dinner whit big dishes of course. Then we drove from Toronto to Guelph where we slept at the University of Guelph at the Maids Hall residence, also named The House of Art, which some people interpreted in a very special way (Greetje Castelijn)