Campbell Soup was founded shortly after the Civil War, and for the majority of its lifespan has been a family company.
It's uncertain how much longer it will remain one.
The soup company is undergoing an operational review that will assess the entirety of its portfolio. While a "no sacred cows" approach has left industry sources wondering whether the soup giant could put itself up for sale, the company has weathered such speculation before. Every time that speculation has arisen, Campbell — and the family that together comprises its largest shareholders — has opted to keep it a family heirloom.
Times have changed. The descendants of John T. Dorrance — the man who many say invented condensed soup — are now in their fourth generation. Some of his family members have decreased their stake in the soup company. Many have not worked for it for extended periods of time.
Campbell's problems are many, and growing. Retailers like Walmart, which once needed Campbell on its shelves, have lost patience with its declining soup sales. It also faces competition from upstart brands that appeal to the younger generation's focus on health and newness.