PepsiCo invests £58m in Walkers crisps production site

PepsiCo has announced a £58 million investment in its Walkers Leicester production site – its biggest investment in the UK in the last 25 years.

The factory in Leicester is one of the world’s biggest crisp factories and home to Walkers crisps and snacks, which celebrates its 75th birthday this year. The investment will see a new manufacturing line installed, the replacement of existing machinery with more sustainable equipment, as well as an extensive upgrade of employee facilities for the site’s 1,120-strong workforce.

PepsiCo has invested more than £120 million in its UK manufacturing operations and supply chain since 2020. The company added that the scale of this latest investment secures the future of the factory and positions Walkers for further growth in the long-term.

Jason Richards, SVP and general manager, PepsiCo UK and Ireland said with the company celebrating 75 years of Walkers crisps, there is no better time to renew its commitment to Leicester.

“As we look ahead to the next 75 years and future-proof our UK operations, this £58 million investment will transform our manufacturing site and installing state-of-the-art equipment will help us deliver on our ambitions on packaging and health,” Richards said. “Alongside upgrades to meet increased demand for our snacks, we’re proud to be investing in creating better facilities for our people, who remain at the heart of bringing our most loved snacks to households across the country.“

The company highlighted four focus areas designed to deliver sustainable growth, with specific updates being made to drive progress towards packaging and health goals set as part of pep+ (PepsiCo Positive), a strategy to transform the business around with sustainability.

  1. New production line to meet demand for Walkers snacks – the installation of a new line will increase capacity at the factory and enable the production of more Walkers snacks, notably Wotsits and Monster Munch. These products have grown in popularity in recent years, in part due to new flavours and formats such as Wotsits Crunchy. Additionally, Wotsits Giants and Monster Munch Giants, which are currently manufactured in Europe, will be made in Leicester once construction is complete in 2024. This move will help reduce transport-related emissions by an estimated 915 tonnes a year, equivalent to taking around 540 cars off UK roads (source: nimblefins)
  2. Investing in sustainable equipment – further upgrades include changing from gas fired ovens to electric ones, supplied with 100% renewable electricity, helping cut around 1,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually – equivalent to the heating and cooking related emissions of 366 UK households. These efforts will drive progress towards the pep+ commitment to target an absolute reduction across its value chain by more than 40% by 2030 (2015 baseline), reaching net-zero emissions by 2040. New compact packaging equipment will also be installed to reduce the amount of virgin plastic used in multipack outer packaging by 56 tonnes a year (2022 baseline), as PepsiCo moves towards its pep+ goal of eliminating virgin fossil-based plastic from its crisp and snack bags across Europe by 2030.
  3. Supporting Walkers’ healthier choices ambition – the funding will also bring in technology to enable the development of further healthier ranges from 2024. These are set to play a key role in helping Walkers meet its ambition to have half of its snacks sales come from products that do not classify as HFSS or those sold in portions of 100 kcal or less by 2025.
  4. Improving workplace facilities – the upgrades will open up new training and upskilling opportunities for 1,120 Leicester employees, with up to 100 new roles being created to manage workload across the new equipment and technology.

This announcement follows a £24 million investment in PepsiCo’s Lincoln factory announced in 2021, as well as further multimillion-pound investments in its Southern Region Distribution Centre in Leicester and the Skelmersdale and Coventry Walkers sites in recent years.

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