Ever wondered why KP Snacks is so called? It goes back to one Charles Kenyon, who started Kenyon Produce in 1853 in Rotherham, mostly selling jam.

After a century of making various foods, the company began making crisps in the 1940s.

Today, KP Snacks is the UK’s second largest snack manufacturer, with the number one nuts brand in KP Nuts and with an iconic snack portfolio including Hula Hoops, McCoy’s, Butterkist and popchips.

Matt Collins, Trading Director, KP Snacks, spoke to Wholesale Manager about the performance of the crisps, snacks and nuts market and the company’s plans for its brands.

What does your job as Trading Director involve day to day?

Fundamentally, my role is to make sure we reflect our customer needs in our business and deliver plans that generate value and help our customers thrive. We’re customer centric, easy to do business with, and more committed than ever to supporting our partners by being flexible and responsive, pivoting our approach to deliver the best possible support and value. That’s a core focus for me right now.

How would you sum up KP’s history?

In one word, exciting! We’ve been on an incredible journey since we were acquired by Intersnack Group in 2013. They’ve been hugely supportive, investing to develop our business, funding acquisitions and supporting marketing investment to drive shopper demand for our brands.

Can you tell us a bit about your brand portfolio?

We have one of the most versatile portfolios on the market and we’re investing behind it.

We’ve expanded rapidly over the last three years with the acquisition of Butterkist, popchips and Tyrrells. Together with our iconic brands, including the no. 1 nuts brand in KP Nuts1, one of UK’s best loved and best-selling snacks in Hula Hoops and the flavour packed McCoy’s range, we are proud to have developed an unrivalled, one-stop-shop portfolio.

How has the crisps, snacks and nuts market been performing over the last couple of years?

CSN is a fast growing, priority category with huge scale. Worth £3.3bn2, in 2019 it grew by £96M with KP Snacks delivering the biggest single category growth contribution at +£50m.

The No.1 CSN category driver is taste, and we are in the business of making great tasting snacks that serve a number of customer & shopper occasions, across all snacking segments (crisps, snacks, nuts, popcorn), delivered in all formats (singles, multipacks, sharing) and up and down the value spectrum.

Snacking products have been scrutinised by health experts and the Government. Have you taken any steps to make yours ‘Better for You’?

Through our ‘Taste for Good’ programme we have been working on improving the health credentials of our products for a number of years, through product renovation and NPD. We are a significant player in healthy snacking with a portfolio which now includes 32 products that contain 100 calories or fewer per pack.

We offer a broad range of highly desirable permissible snacks to suit all occasions, including our growing brands POM-BEAR, Hula Hoops Puft, Skips, Space Raiders and popchips.

How has KP been supporting staff, customers and the community during the Covid-19 crisis?

We have been working uncompromisingly in the background, safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our colleagues and trade partners, which remains our overriding priority. Operationally, we have and will continue to respond, adapt and be agile to serve and support.

We are really proud of how our industry has responded to this crisis and in this era of uncertainty, our partnership approach is more important than ever.

In your estimation, how big has the impact of Covid-19 been on the crisps, snacks and nuts market?

Since lockdown, there has been a shift in demand within CSN segments, with in-home consumption fuelling growth. At one end of the extreme, we’ve seen out-of-home close overnight, resulting in a decline in foodservice sales. As the majority of people worked from home, food-to-go and meal deal sales have also unsurprisingly seen a sharp decline.

However, there has been an increase in savoury snacking occasions, with CSN being the fastest growing snack and showing up in 70% more convenience baskets during lockdown3.

Multipacks (+27.9%) and Sharing (+18.2%) are performing strongly4. Our job now is to get on-the-go CSN sales back to where they were, supporting our customers through these ever-changing times.

How long will it take the market to recover from Covid-19?

Ultimately it comes down to Government guidelines and consumer confidence. Recessionary conditions are inevitable but we don’t know how long this will last and how quickly consumer behaviours will change. What’s great about CSN however, is that it is a resilient category that plays into multiple occasions and missions.

We’ve got two key objectives now. The first is to help catering, food service and hospitality sector recover & rebuild and the second is to reward the resilience of retailers on the front line and help them retain the business they have grown during the crisis.

As an agile manufacturer, we will continue to pivot and be adaptable, accelerating where needed to ensure we continue to deliver for our customers.

Will some consumer habits be permanently altered by Covid-19?

It is very likely that some behaviours will stick post-lockdown as some ‘virus-boosted’ trade will become part of our adjusted normality. For example, over the coming months, many consumers are still going to be choosing to spend more time at home and will be striving to make the ‘BNI’ feel like a ‘BNO’- whether it be a movie night, or a drink with the perfect snack accompaniment. We’re also expecting the trend to shop more locally to continue, with 27% of people expected to continue to shop in convenience stores more often5.

How are you helping your wholesale customers grow their business?

In order to deliver the support our industry needs, we’re investing significantly in a campaign to help our customers reward & retain, recover & rebuild. They’ve been there for us and now we want to support them. For the Wholesale category, we’re introducing a bespoke ‘Local Legends’ incentive to reward our customers and their staff. We’re also celebrating ‘Local Legends’ – Convenience and Independent retailers and their teams, who have gone above and beyond, whilst continuing to partner with GroceryAid to drive awareness of the support available to the channel. Finally, we’ll be launching a consumer on-pack on our premium brand Tyrrells to raise funds for the on trade sector to support in their recovery: Running across 1 million packs we’ll be donating 5p per pack to ‘Licensed Trade Charity’. Watch this space for more details.

How can wholesalers maximise sales of your products?

It always comes down to stocking the right core range that covers top selling lines at different price points.

We all need to be flexible and adaptable at this time so if there is a need for a more diverse range of products, for example multipacks, the Wholesalers should adapt and flex accordingly. It’s about tweaking range to ensure you’re meeting your customer’s needs.

How are you supporting your brands this year?

Marketing activity has shifted to take into consideration the current landscape but we are still investing behind our brands and understand that this is particularly important in recessionary times, when consumers want the reassurance of brands they know and trust. The value equation is still very important so we will continue to invest in product, promotion and the most relevant marketing.

It’s no secret that brands that can add value and enjoyment to consumers ‘Together Time’ have the potential to create enduring loyalty. With the help of our popcorn brand, Butterkist, we’re helping consumers have the ultimate movie night. We have recently launched a new partnership with NOW TV to create the perfect combo of entertainment and snacks and add value to the family movie experience. The on-pack promotion offers a half price NOW TV pass offered with each purchase of Butterkist microwave popcorn and is running until the end of November.

We’re also launching another Butterkist on pack promotion from September on all sharing, £1 PMP and multipacks – and that is to win 1 of 10 ‘Ultimate Movie Night’ bundles consisting of a TV and home entertainment system, plus a 12 month Now TV Sky Cinema Pass. We have always been passionate about helping to create special moments of togetherness and are constantly looking for ways to improve the in-home experience and time spent with family, especially while consumers are still having to spend more time at home.

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