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PepsiCo gives £58m boost to Walkers Leicester site

PepsiCo has today announced a £58m investment in its Walkers crisp production factory in Leicester, UK, focused on delivering 'sustainable growth'. In a statement announcing the news, PepsiCo said the investment is its biggest in the UK within the last 25 years. It focuses on four key areas with specific updates being made to drive progress toward packaging and health goals set as part of 'pep+' (PepsiCo Positive), the company’s sustainability-focused business transformation strategy. Installation of a new manufacturing 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. The company expects this to reduce transport-related emissions by an estimated 915 tonnes per year. The investment will also support upgrades to more sustainable equipment. This includes changing from gas-fired ovens to electric ovens supplied with 100% renewable electricity and installing new compact packaging equipment to reduce the amount of virgin plastic used in multipack outer packaging. Efforts aim to drive progress toward pep+ commitments to target an absolute emissions reduction across PepsiCo’s value chain by more than 40% by 2030 and to eliminate 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 packaging on millions of Walkers 20-bag multipacks and the use of nanotechnology to create a stronger stretch film for pallets with reduced virgin plastic. Funding will also bring in technology to enable the development of healthier ranges from 2024. These aim to support Walkers’ 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. Finally, training and upskilling opportunities for the site’s 1,120 employees will be supported by the investment 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. Jason Richards, SVP and general manager at 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 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.”

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