Walkers (snack foods)
|Public limited company, a subsidiary of PepsiCo|
|Founded||1948 (70 years ago)|
|Headquarters||Leicester, England, United Kingdom|
Walkers is a British snack food manufacturer mainly operating in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Walkers was founded in 1948 in Leicester, England by Henry Walker, and in 1989 was acquired by Lay's owner, Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo. They are best known for manufacturing potato crisps, and other, non-potato-based snack foods. It holds 56 percent of the British crisps market. The Walkers site in Leicester is the largest crisp production plant in the world, producing over 11 million bags of crisps per day and using about 800 tons of potatoes.
In the 1880s, Walker moved from Mansfield to Leicester to take over an established butcher's shop in the high street. Meat rationing after World War II saw the factory output drop dramatically, and so in 1948 the company starting looking at alternative products. Potato crisps were becoming increasingly popular with the public, leading managing director R.E. Gerrard to shift the company focus and begin hand-slicing and frying potatoes.
The Walkers logo, featuring a red ribbon around a yellow sun, is noticeably similar to Lay's. It derives from the Walkers logo used in 1990. The company is still a significant presence in Leicester. Gary Lineker, the Leicester-born former footballer, is now the face of the company, featuring in most of their advertising campaigns since 1995's "Welcome Home". The official website states that an estimated "11 million people will eat a Walkers product every day". The company employs over 4,000 people in fifteen locations.
In February 2006, Walkers changed their brand label and typeset. They also announced they were to reduce the saturated fat in their crisps by 70%. They started frying their crisps in "SunSeed" oil, as claiming the oil is higher in monounsaturated fat content than the standard sunflower oil which they had used previously, establishing their own sunflower farms in Ukraine and Spain to be able to produce sufficient quantities of the oil. Walkers updated their packaging style in June 2007, moving to a brand identity reminiscent of the logo used from 1998–2006.
Many of Walkers brands were formerly branded under the Smiths Crisps name. This comes from the time when Walkers, Smiths and Tudor Crisps were the three main brands of Nabisco's UK snack division, with Tudor being marketed mainly in the north of England and Walkers in the south. After the takeover by PepsiCo, the Tudor name was dropped, and the Smiths brand has become secondary to Walkers. The only products currently[when?] retaining the Smiths brand are Salt & Vinegar and Ready Salted Chipsticks, Frazzles and the "Savoury Selection", which includes Bacon Flavour Fries, Scampi Flavour Fries and Cheese Flavoured Moments.
To promote the freshness of its products, Walkers began to package them in foil bags from 1993, then from 1996, began filling them with nitrogen instead of air. In 1997, Walkers became the brand name of Quavers and Monster Munch snacks. In August 2000, Walkers launched Max, a brand with a range of crisps. More Max flavours were introduced in 2001. In the same year Walkers bought Squares, a range of snacks from Smiths.
In May 2002, Walkers launched Sensations, a range of crisps in the UK. Walkers introduced the Quavers flavours Salt & Vinegar and Prawn Cocktail in July 2002.
In 2003, Smiths brands Salt 'n' Shake, Scampi Fries and Bacon Fries were relaunched under the Walker's identity. In 2003 Walkers bought Wotsits from Golden Wonder. In July 2004, Walkers launched Wotsits Twisted, a range of cheese puffs in the UK. Nutrition information has appeared on the front of Walkers crisps packets since 2006.
In 2007, Walkers launched Sunbites, a healthier range of lower/better fat crisps made using whole grains.
In July 2008, Walkers launched its "Do Us a Flavour" campaign, challenging the public to think up unique flavours for their crisps. In January 2009 six flavours were chosen from among the entries and released as special editions, available until May 2009. During this period, consumers could vote on their favourite, and the winner would become a permanent flavour. The winner was Builder's Breakfast by Emma Rushin from Belper in Derbyshire. This flavour was discontinued a year later, in May 2010, in order for Walkers to focus on the upcoming 'Flavour Cup'.
In summer 2009 Walkers launched its premium "Red Sky" brand of "all natural" potato crisps and snacks. It was stated that Red Sky products were made from 100% natural ingredients, and that the makers "work in partnership with Cool Earth", a charity that protects endangered rainforest; Walkers made charitable donations proportionate to the number of purchases of Red Sky snacks. Walkers discontinued the range in 2014 following poor sales.
In April 2010, the company launched a promotional campaign entitled the Walkers Flavour Cup in order to locate the world's most loved and favourite flavour. In the end, it was decided that the flavour with the most fans at the end of the tournament/competition would be declared the winner and ultimate champion of all flavours. Walkers encouraged people to engage in social media activity, and upload photos and videos to their website proving people's Superfan status of Walkers Crisps. The best fan from each of the 15 flavours won £10,000. In the end, English Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding won the Flavour Cup.
In early 2013, Walkers revised their packaging, with a new design and typeface. Slogans such as 'Distinctively Salt & Vinegar' and 'Classically Ready Salted' were added to the front of packs. The previous packaging design had only existed for 12 months. Along with this packaging design, there came news that the company would begin using real meat products in its Smoky Bacon and Roast Chicken flavoured crisps. This prompted substantial opposition from vegetarians, vegans and Muslims, who were now unable to consume the crisps.
In 2014, Lineker launched a new "Do Us a Flavour" Walkers competition which encouraged people to submit new flavours of crisps, with the best six being sold later in the year before a public vote to decide the winner. The winner would win £1m.
In early 2015, the packaging was again revised due to the fact that British-only ingredients were no longer part of the recipes. As a result, the various UK-related front-of-pack slogans were replaced by 'Fresh Taste Guaranteed'. The typeface was also changed.
In August 2015, Walkers launched the "Bring me Back" campaign, reintroducing the Barbecue, Cheese and Chive, Beef and Onion, Lamb and Mint and Toasted Cheese flavours for a limited time. People could vote on Walker's website or use hashtags to see which flavour would be reintroduced permanently. The Marmite flavour was also brought back permanently to coincide with the promotion. 'Beef and Onion' got the most votes and was reintroduced permanently.
On 10 April 2016, Walkers launched the Spell and Go promotion, again fronted by Gary Lineker. This competition caused some controversy as customers complained that it was impossible to win. The fairness of the competition was discussed on You and Yours, the consumer show on BBC Radio 4. Over 100 entrants complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, who after completing an investigation, decided that elements were misleading, and the competition was banned. It was reported that only 800 holidays of the promised 20,000 were actually won.
As of 2018 Walkers are under pressure from campaigners to change their packaging due to its contribution to litter and plastic pollution. As part of the protest a marine biology student wore a crisp packet dress to her graduation. She claimed the dress was inspired by litter she'd seen on a beach. In September 2018, Royal Mail appealed to customers to stop posting empty crisp packets to Walkers, which campaigners had asked people to do and "flood Walkers social media with pictures of us popping them in the post". Royal Mail was obliged by law to deliver the bags to Walkers' freepost address, but without envelopes they could not go through machines and must be sorted by hand, causing delays.
Walkers most common flavours of regular crisp are Ready Salted (sold in a red packet), Cheese & Onion (blue), Prawn Cocktail (pink) and Salt & Vinegar (green). Other flavours are sold in other coloured packets, such as Beef & Onion (brown), Marmite (black) and Worcester sauce (purple).
Some flavours were made available for a short time either because they tied in with special promotions, or failed to meet sales expectations. Walker's "Great British Dinner" range included Baked Ham & Mustard and Chicken Tikka.
A series of "mystery flavours" were launched in 2012, and later revealed to be Sour Cream & Spring Onion, Lincolnshire Sausage & Brown Sauce and Birmingham Chicken Balti.
Other products sold by Walkers include their Baked crisp range, Cheese Heads, Crinkles, Deep Ridged, Extra Crunchy 150g bags, launched in 2010 Lights (low fat crisps, formerly Lites), Market Deli crisps, pitta chips and tortilla chips, Max, Pops, Potato Heads (discontinued in 2008), Salt 'n' Shake, Sensations, Squares, Stars, Sunbites (wholegrain crispy snacks) and Hoops and Crosses.
In 2016, Walkers produced a limited edition 'Winners - Salt and Victory' crisps to commemorate their home-town football team, Leicester City, winning the Premier League for the first time. Earlier that season, Walkers had given Leicester fans in attendance at a match versus Chelsea bags of "Vardy Salted" crisps, bearing the image of the Foxes' striker.
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