RN: How has your van sales division performed since it launched in early 2018?
Matthew Goddard: It’s challenging to say how the team is performing as we don’t have data to compare it to. The wholesale market is going through an incredible amount of change – we launched our field sales team to make sure our retail customers continued to receive products and support.
RN: Tell us about the new products you’ve launched recently
MG: Our new Christmas flavours include Turkey & Stuffing, which proved popular last year, alongside two new flavours: Pigs in Blankets and Brussels Sprouts. I think I can confidently say we are the first in the world to produce a Brussels sprout-flavoured crisp.
It’s an impulsive category, especially at Christmas, so new products are key to growing snacking sales. The other major seasonal focus is in sharing. Chistmas presents a huge opportunity in the larger-format snacking market.
RN: How do retailers balance the huge number of new products that are launched at this time of year with the need to keep a core range?
MG: Core really is key, but it is important to understand that 16% of category growth in crisps and snacks is coming from new products. It’s about using it in the right way – new products should either appeal to a new market section, such as healthier snacking lines, or drive excitement and interest in store. However, the core range is what shoppers expect, so it should always be present.
RN: How would a junk food promotions ban affect Walkers and the crisps & snacks category as a whole?
MG: We don’t know what a junk food promotions ban would look like, so it’s not clear what the effect would be yet. However, we are continuing to work with the Government to reformulate existing products and also build new ones that fall in the ‘better for you’ category.
RN: What role do you see Walkers playing in the new food-to-go model focused on hot food and different chilled offerings?
MG: The accelerating food-to-go market is good for crisps and snacks. Historically, it has been a component of any meal deal offering, but with independents there’s still a lot of head room to expand these kind of deals, especially around lunch-to-go meal deals. The important thing to remember is that a food-to-go shopper spends three minutes in store on average, so merchandising the food-to-go offering in one convenient location is the best thing any retailer can do to grow the basket spend for this type of customer.
RN: What is Walkers doing to improve sustainability in both consumer and trade packaging?
MG: There is no quick fix, but we have pledged that 100% of our packaging will be recyclable by 2025. In the supply chain, we will reduce packaging by 30%. We will trial different packaging materials in 2019, so look out for the changes in store.
RN: What is the biggest challenge facing convenience store owners in the crisps & snacks category?
MG: I would say it is quite frequent to see stores stocking too many types of crisps and snacks, and that’s a shame because it ties money up in stock that could be delivering better results elsewhere. My advice is to stock only what is right for your shoppers’ missions and to maximise the core range. In multiples they recognise the value of space – for instance giving bestsellers more facings. However, in independents, we often see lines given equal space regardless.