Moving Forward: Where is the soup?

Paul Hunter Zaid
Redwood Falls Gazette

It all started as many things now have – with coronavirus.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic I was responsibly purchasing items for my pantry.

One item that I was looking for was Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo soup which I use to make my BBQ’s.

If anyone else has noticed, the soup aisle has been decimated since the pandemic began, and it has yet to recover even into late July.

I have been hunting for the elusive chicken gumbo in various markets and in various towns and cities with absolutely no chicken gumbo in sight.

Perhaps you have noticed yourself that some of your favorite soups are still missing from store shelves and have been wondering what’s the situation as I have been.

From my understanding it has nothing to do with the supply chain, but, according to an MSN news article published in late June, it’s due to manufacturers being forced to halt production on a significant portion of their product offerings during the pandemic.

Instead, it is focused on producing only the most popular, easiest-to-produce and fastest-moving items. As a result, no chicken gumbo and also no cream of celery soup is to be found from here to the Twin Cities.

Don’t worry Becky, I’m still on the hunt for cream of celery for you.

According to the article the loss of products isn’t only within the soup aisle.

The article goes on to say the Wall Street Journal reports many big food brands are making these cuts permanent in a bid to streamline their products, because producing many of these grocery items just isn’t feasible while adhering to social distancing guidelines in manufacturing facilities.

While coronavirus began the chopping of grocery items, the article goes on to address another reason why manufacturers are coming to terms with discontinuing a large chunk of their products: “The Paradox of Choice.”

Commonly used by consumer psychologists, “The Paradox of Choice” is where shoppers become paralyzed when they have dozens of similar options to choose from. This happens to me all the time.

How does one know whether you should buy the chunky, hearty, heart-healthy or home style chicken noodle soup? Is one truly better than the other?

I'm a label reader, because a label is half marketing, if not more. I’m not falling into the typical consumer trap of just grabbing items based on label appearance.

The article concludes that the same trend is happening in the restaurant industry. So in addition to never seeing your favorite foods on grocery store shelves, you should also prepare yourself for disappointment by finding out that your favorite item is no longer offered at an eatery.

As we all continue to adjust and forge ahead with the new world around us I have personally learned to adapt the best that I can, and when I can’t find my favorite food item, I do the next best thing.

I make it myself.

So happy cooking to you all ,and if you find any Campbell’s chicken gumbo or Campbell’s cream of celery please buy me a case.