General Mills has announced that is removing added monosodium glutamate, or MSG, from all 80 of its Progresso soups. Its major competitor, Campbell Soups, has begun airing commercials promoting the absence of MSG from its soups.
"Twenty-six Progresso soups are already free of added MSG," said Kyle Duea, marketing manager for Progresso, acknowledging and publicly confirming the strategy for the first time. "That number will continue to increase as we implement this strategy across the Progresso line."
Progresso would have preferred to announce the change when complete, according to Duea, but opted to announce the move now in response to current competitive advertising in the category.
General Mills is claiming the high ground in the MSG wars, saying that some of Campbell's soups still contain the flavor enhancer. General Mills executives seemed a bit miffed at Campbell's ad campaign for its Select Harvest soup.
"Campbell's campaign has been quite disingenuous, in our view," said Jerry Lynch, vice president of Marketing for Progresso. "Not only does their advertising make misleading statements about Progresso, but it also fails to acknowledge that more than 90 Campbell's soups--a large portion of their soups--do contain added MSG."
Focusing on taste and weight management, General Mills says Progresso has been gaining share in the ready-to-serve soup category, capturing 3.3 share points over the past 2 years. As Progresso rolls-out its reformulations, the company promises consumers will also see more and more Progresso soups free of added MSG on store shelves.
MSG is a sodium salt used as a flavor enhancer in food. It has been "generally recognized as safe" by the Food and Drug Administration since 1959. However, health advocates have expressed concerns that it can promote high blood pressure and obesity.