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July 12, 2022updated 13 Jul 2022 8:48am

Walkers blames IT issues for new UK crisp shortage

The chips are down (again) for the snack food company as a digital systems glitch hits distribution.

By Matthew Gooding

Walkers is blaming IT trouble for a shortage of crisps which has led to some of its best-known flavours being absent from supermarket shelves. It is the second time in less than a year that the failure of digital systems has caused a snack shortage for the crisp manufacturer.

Walkers are blaming IT issues for a fresh crisp shortage. (Photo by FootoSpeedy/iStock)

Tesco, Asda and other supermarkets are missing many of Walkers’ most popular crisps, according to the Telegraph, which says up to a fifth of the company’s products that are normally on sale are out of stock.

A spokesperson for Walkers said: “We experienced a short-term IT issue which led to the supply of our crisps and snacks being more limited than usual.”

They reassured customers that “availability of our brands in shops remains good so crisp fans can continue to enjoy their favourite snacks”. 

Tech Monitor has approached Walkers to request more information on the nature of the problem.

Walkers crisp shortage: will IT problems chip away at sales?

It is not the first time Walkers has blamed its digital systems for a lack of stock. In November, the company said an IT upgrade was to blame for reduced production which led to crisp shortages across the country, with retailers receiving a fraction of their orders.

“A recent IT system upgrade has disrupted the supply of some of our products,” a Walkers spokesperson said at the time. “Our sites are still making crisps and snacks but at a reduced scale. We’re prioritising production of our most popular Walkers crisps flavours including Cheese and Onion, Ready Salted, and Salt and Vinegar, as well as Quavers and Wotsits from our snacks range.”

Walkers’ Leicester factory is the biggest of its kind in the world, producing more than 11 million crisps a day. Its parent company, Pepsico, has been undergoing a digitisation programme, and last year Walkers unveiled a £14m upgrade to its distribution centre near Leicester, with a new building being set up featuring “state-of-the-art equipment and technology” that Walkers claims has increased capacity and efficiency at the site. 

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Pepsico’s 2021 annual report says that it plans to establish a network of digital hubs around the world to drive its digitisation agenda. The first two hubs, in Dallas and Barcelona, have already been set up and are set to “create more than 500 new, high-calibre data and digital jobs over the next three years,” the company said.

Read more: Can digital technology prevent supply chain disruption?

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