Walkers reformulates Sunbites range and introduces new packaging

Walkers has transformed its Sunbites range with the rollout of new packaging made with recycled plastic and the entire range now classified as non-HFSS.

The recycled plastic content has been allocated using the ISCC+ certified mass balance approach. This means buying and using sufficient mass-balanced recycled plastic material to eliminate 200 tonnes of fossil-based plastic across Sunbites packaging by the end of 2025.

It is the latest in a series of packaging innovations from Walkers which has seen the brand recently launch new paper outer packaging for the entire Walkers Baked range and roll out a cardboard design for Walkers 20-bag multipacks.

The launch forms part of PepsiCo Positive (pep+), Walkers’ parent company’s health and sustainability plan, which includes an ambition in Europe to eliminate virgin fossil-based plastic in crisp and snack bags by 2030.

Alongside its new packaging, the popular snack’s recipe has been reformulated and is now non-HFSS. Made with 100% wholegrains and natural flavourings, Sunbites now contains less sugar in the chip and less salt in the seasoning.

According to the brand, it took a team of experts based in PepsiCo’s R&D centre in Leicester four trials over six months to find a way to reduce the sugar in a Sunbites chip by more than half.

As sugar is a bigger contributor to the crunch than the taste, the team experimented with the proportions of the four wholegrains used to find the “sweet” spot, as well as the amount of water added to the dough and the speed at which it went through the extruder during production.

Sunbites joins a line-up of Walkers non-HFSS favourites including 45% Less Salt, Baked, Doritos Dippers and PopWorks.

Last year, Walkers set an ambition to make snacks that are non-HFSS or sold in portions of under 100 calories comprise 50% of its sales by 2025. Eighteen months later, Walkers is over halfway to reaching this goal – with 30% of the snack brand’s sales now made up of healthier snacks.

Gareth Callan, sustainable packaging lead for PepsiCo UK noted that the Sunbites transformation marks an ongoing commitment to offer products that are better for both people and planet.

“We’re proud of the progress we’ve made so far to reduce the fossil-based plastic we use and meet growing demand for healthier snacking options without sacrificing taste,” Callan said.

“We’re working hard to reinvent our packaging. To help us do this at scale, we are urging the UK government to recognise the role that chemical recycling and other emerging mechanical technologies could play in creating demand for food-contact flexible plastics – including the modification of the Plastic Packaging Tax to stimulate a circular economy for packaging in the UK.”

As PepsiCo works to meet these ambitious goals, it sees food-contact recycling technologies – such as chemical recycling – and the expansion of associated recycling infrastructure as playing a critical role in developing capacity to meet growing demand, while supporting a circular economy for packaging used by the UK’s food manufacturing sector.

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