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What’s up with Wotsits, Quavers and Monster Munch?

IT failure leads to shortages of popular UK crisps on supermarket shelves resulting in extraordinary price hikes on eBay

Walkers, a brand owned by PepsiCo, has confirmed that IT issues have led to a problem with the supply of popular snacks to shops.

The UK shortage of Walkers has led to its popular range of potato crisps and other snacks such as Wotsits, Quavers and Monster Munch being unavailable in many supermarkets.

One sample listing on eBay had a 25g bag of Walkers ready salted crisps being auctioned in “new” condition with bids starting at £6.20, plus £3.20 postage.

A spokesperson for Walkers said: “A recent IT system upgrade has disrupted the supply of some of our products. Our sites are still making crisps and snacks but at a reduced scale. We’re doing everything we can to increase production and get people’s favourites back on shelves. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience caused.”

While it is unclear what has happened to lead to the unprecedented failure to deliver packets of Walkers crisps and snacks, its parent company PepsiCo has been running a major digitisation initiative to drive efficiency across its supply chains.

In a second-quarter earnings call, Hugh Johnston, chief financial officer and vice-chairman at PepsiCo, was asked about the company’s drive for greater efficiency. He said: “A couple of things on that. Number one, look, we’ve obviously been delivering $1bn of productivity, over $1bn a year for a number of years, and we continue to find opportunities to do that.

“Number two, part of what we’re trying to do is shape the company for the future. And in doing so, we’re obviously taking cost out in certain places and then we’re investing in certain places, like digitising the supply chain and making our interactions with customers and consumers much more efficient than they were in the past.”

Last year, PepsiCo selected Microsoft as its preferred cloud provider in a five-year deal. Through the agreement, the two companies said they would work to accelerate PepsiCo’s infrastructure, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and data estate consolidation and modernisation.

As part of the agreement, PepsiCo planned to roll out Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams to all of its 270,000 employees worldwide. According to PepsiCo and Microsoft, Microsoft Azure will provide PepsiCo with greater agility and the ability to derive new insights from its data estate to fuel product innovations, customer intimacy and sustainability goals.

Through the agreement, Microsoft said PepsiCo’s global data estate and SAP landscapes were being redeployed on Azure. At the time of the announcement, Deb Cupp, Microsoft corporate vice-president for enterprise commercial business, said: “We’ll be able to help PepsiCo drive efficiencies from farmer to consumer. We’re also pleased to deliver Microsoft 365 to PepsiCo’s associates worldwide as part of this partnership. Mobile communication and collaboration for PepsiCo’s workforce will be one of the keys to realising the value Microsoft brings.”

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