4 minute read - 7th June 2023
PepsiCo to make £58m Walkers crisps factory investment
Food and beverage manufacturer PepsiCo is to invest £58m in its Walkers crisps production site in Leicester – its largest investment in the UK in the last 25 years.
The site in Leicester is one of the world’s biggest crisp and snack factories, and is set to celebrate 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.
The installation of the new line will increase capacity at the factory and enable the production of more Walkers snacks, notably Wotsits and Monster Munch. 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.
Jason Richards, SVP and general manager for PepsiCo UK and Ireland, said: “In 2023, we’re celebrating 75 years of Walkers crisps, so there’s no better time to renew our commitment to Leicester – a city and community that have been crucial to our success in the UK. As we look ahead to the next 75 years and futureproof 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. 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 investment has 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 strategic end-to-end business transformation with sustainability at the heart.
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, 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, as PepsiCo moves towards its pep+ goal of eliminating virgin fossil-based plastic from its crisp and snack bags across Europe by 2030.
This follows sustainable food packaging innovations announced last year, including new cardboard designs replacing outer plastic packaging on millions of Walkers 20-bag multipacks, and the use of new nanotechnology to create a stronger stretch film on its pallets that uses less virgin plastic.
The funding will also bring in innovative 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 (high in fat, salt and sugar) or from products sold in portions of 100 calories or less by 2025.
The upgrades will open up new training and upskilling opportunities for its 1,120 Leicester employees, with up to 100 new roles being created to manage workload across the new equipment and technology. A major refurbishment of employee facilities is also underway, with training areas, a new on-site restaurant, modern meeting rooms and a dedicated celebration space near completion.
This announcement follows a £24m investment in PepsiCo’s Lincoln factory announced in 2021, as well as further multi-million pound investments in its Southern Region Distribution Centre in Leicester and the Skelmersdale and Coventry Walkers sites in recent years. PepsiCo has collectively invested more than £120m in its UK manufacturing operations and supply chain since 2020.