Tayto must surely be the only brand of crisps to be made in a castle. For 60 years the crisps have been made at Tayto Castle in Tandragee, Northern Ireland. The castle houses a closely guarded room where since 1956 Tayto Cheese & Onion flavour has been made to the same recipe, known to only a select few. Following various acquisitions, Tayto’s portfolio includes the mighty Golden Wonder brand, plus the more specialist REAL Handcooked crisps and Portlebay Popcorn and the top three pork snacks brands: Mr Porky, Real Pork Co and Midland Snacks. Matt Smith Marketing Director at Tayto, tells Wholesale Manager about the brand’s latest activity and how wholesalers can grow crisp sales.

Tell us something about the company history. Isn’t is true Tayto invented the first flavoured crisp production process?

Whilst two of our biggest brands, Tayto and Golden Wonder, both have legendary Cheese & Onion crisps, who made the first flavoured crisp is much disputed (and that’s just within our own business!). Both brands have rich histories, with Golden Wonder being founded in Edinburgh in 1947 and Tayto in 1956. However, Tayto is pretty unique in having a crisp factory in a castle – in the lovely, rolling hills of Co. Armagh in N. Ireland – as well as being the largest family-owned snack business in the UK.

How is the crisps and snacks market performing?

It’s a mature, £3bn market in steady growth and has almost universal appeal as we are a nation of snackers! The sub-sectors have quite different performance with flat crisps currently about flat YoY (no pun intended!) and pork snacks being the fastest growing segment – which is great for us given we are market leaders in pork snacks.

How do you work with wholesalers to help them grow their business?

We have a 13 strong team working in this channel as we know our brands over-trade in this channel. We look to align closely to our customers’ priorities including using their mechanics to drive sales of our brands. With more and more sales transitioning to ‘delivered’, online orders and marketing is increasingly important and we are prioritising these opportunities to drive growth. Given our strength in pork snacking, a key focus for us in the next year is landing our new range and helping customers maximise the opportunity to drive sales through the new products and formats we’re launching.

How can wholesalers maximise sales of your products?

Pork snacks are a massive growth opportunity for both the on-trade and independent retailers, so wholesalers must cater for both sectors. Pork scratchings are the ultimate pub snack but actually, more are eaten in the home, as people look to ‘take that pub taste home’. They also have broader appeal than many imagine, with almost as many women as men digging in.

Our refreshed range has new products and formats to maximise the opportunity as well as retaining proven winners such as our best-selling pubcard – Midland Snacks Traditional Scratchings. Mr Porky is the No1 brand and has a new premium offering – Mr Porky Hand Cooked Scratchings – which has been awarded Great Taste 2 stars and is available as a pubcard and a clipstrip (ideally to be hung next to BWS). Most of our best-selling products are also available in small, shelf-ready cases which makes them perfect for smaller stores.

What are you doing to promote your brands to consumers?

Since we relaunched Golden Wonder in 2016, we have increased marketing spend year-on-year, focusing budgets on TV advertising, digital marketing and social media campaigns. We’ve also run three very successful on-pack promotions with major partners including Pizza Hut and Deliveroo. This has helped drive share across all our brands but we’ve seen particularly strong growth from Ringos, which is up by over a third in the last year!

Our current focus is on our pork snacking range with updated designs that deliver increased purchase intent, promising a sales boost for retailers. I’m particularly excited by our new Mr Porky Hand Cooked Scratchings – a Great Taste 2 star award-winning scratching that will further strengthen Mr Porky as the No1 brand – as well as re-inventing scratchings through lighter alternatives such as Crunch and Crackling from Real Pork Co. Midland Snacks Scratchings has been updated slightly and continues to be the epitome of a traditional scratching – which is why it’s our best-selling pubcard and another Great Taste award-winner. The range will be supported by a multi-channel campaign as well as social media, plus activation in the on-trade which is the spiritual home of pork scratchings – the ultimate pub snack!

What are the biggest trends in the UK crisps & snacks market?

Whilst there are undoubtedly some significant short-term impacts driven by Covid-19, the long term drivers remain Taste, Value, and increasingly, Health. Snacks are treats and therefore taste is king! The brands and products that deliver great taste will always win out, even as health becomes more important – snacks have to be ‘worth the calories’. Value has always been important, and will become more so in the coming months, so brands that can deliver great taste and value will be successful as we seek out comforting treats. A great example of this is Golden Wonder Ringos, which has seen phenomenal growth as it delivers a fully-flavoured snack from 59 calories per pack. Also, as we all look for tasty, comforting snacks, we expect pork scratchings to just keep on growing!

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