Watch CBS News

"Don't change it": Rao's pasta sauce fans concerned after Campbell Soup buys parent company

Digital Brief: Aug. 9, 2023 (AM)
Digital Brief: Aug. 9, 2023 (AM) 02:21

CAMDEN, NJ (CBS/AP) -- Camden, New Jersey-based Campbell Soup is set to buy Sovos Brands, the maker of Rao's pasta sauces. The purchase is causing concern among some on social media, but the company has been quick to deny changes are coming.

"We're not touching it! Anyone who thinks we're going to touch the sauce, no," Campbell's CEO Mark Clouse said in reply to a question from CBS Philadelphia. 

In a Monday announcement, the two companies said they had entered an agreement for Campbell's to acquire Sovos for $23 per share in cash — reflecting a total value of about $2.7 billion.

The transaction will help diversify and strengthen Campbell's Meals & Beverages division, Campbell's President and CEO Clouse said in a statement. "And paired with our faster-growing and differentiated Snacks division, (the Sovos portfolio) makes Campbell one of the most dependable, growth-oriented names in food," he added.

Besides its namesake soups, Campbell makes Prego sauce and Goldfish crackers.

In addition to Rao's sauces, Sovos products include dry pasta, soups, frozen entrees and yogurt under additional brands Michael Angelo's and noosa. According to Monday's press release, Rao's is Sovos' most popular brand, representing about 69% of the company's $837 million in adjusted net sales last year.

While Sovos and Campbell celebrated the transaction in Monday's announcement, the deal has received some pushback online — particularly from loyal Rao's fans. Some expressed concern over the new ownership possibly changing the beloved sauces' taste or ingredients. Rao's currently advertises its Rao's Homemade sauces as having no water, added sugar, tomato paste or colors.

The concerns are unfounded, claims Campbell's CEO.

Rao's pasta sauce customers react to Campbell purchase

On social media, customers who love Rao's were airing complaints.

Neither company has said anything about making changes to the brand.

The main sentiment on Twitter, though, seemed to be concern the merger would mean changes to the sauce.

Campbell Soup will honor "artisanal integrity" of Rao's sauce, other Sovos Brands

"We are 100 percent committed to honoring the artisanal integrity of the amazing food you make. And we are equally committed to fuel and accelerate your momentum by working with and learning from you," Clouse said in a letter to Sovos Brands employees.

According to Rao's website, the brand's history dates back to 1896 — when Italian immigrant Charles Rao bought a small tavern in New York City. The family ran the business over the years, and later transitioned it into a popular restaurant featuring southern Italian dishes. They gained a loyal following, and in 1992, the sauce began to be packaged and sold outside of the restaurant — reaching store aisles as seen today.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Clouse's name

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.