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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 March, 2004, 17:31 GMT
Fat profits: Crunch time for crisps
Golden Wonder crisps
Can Golden Wonder beat the Goliath of the crisps world?
Ed Jackson is a man on a mission.

He has been given the task of turning around the fortunes of Golden Wonder and restoring the company to its former position as the number one crisp brand in Britain.

Years of neglect have led to factory closures, large scale redundancies and the sale of some of their most profitable products.

But Mr Jackson is convinced Golden Wonder can fight back and again become one of the big players in the UK crisp and snack market.


There is just one obstacle standing in his way, though.

We Brits now eat over 10 billion bags a year, that is 100 packs per person every year and is more than the rest of Europe put together.
The giant Walkers Snack Foods.

Owned and backed by the world's biggest snack food company, the $25bn PepsiCo, Walkers are immensely powerful.

Fronted by the phenomenally successful Lineker advertising campaign and benefiting from the size and commercial clout of PepsiCo, Walkers thus dwarfs the opposition.

Controlling over 50% of the market, which is worth over 2bn a year, the crisps maker's dominance appears unassailable.

Humble origins

It was not always this way.

Crisp manufacture began in the post-war rationing period, when restrictions on the availability of meat and flour meant hard times for butchers and bakers.

Walkers crisps
Walkers: A giant with little to fear?
They began to cut up potatoes and sell them in fried slices to drum up trade.

The original companies Golden Wonder, Smiths, KP and Walkers developed as small regional concerns.

The British crisp industry had begun.

By the 1960s, it was Golden Wonder that led the way.

They were the first to introduce ready salted crisps and the first to develop other flavours such as Cheese and Onion.

This was a golden era for Golden Wonder.

Big eaters

Since then the crisp market has expanded massively.

We Brits now eat over 10 billion bags a year, that is 100 packs per person every year and is more than the rest of Europe put together.

The market is an extremely lucrative and competitive one.

And as Mr Jackson insists, "to stand still you have to innovate. You have to innovate or die, that's the name of the game".

Midas touch

Mr Jackson's latest innovation and the secret weapon he hopes will return Golden Wonder to its former place as one of the UK's leading snack companies, is the new Midas Crisp.

Backed by a 25m re-launch, Golden Wonder are introducing the new crisp to try and take back some of their lost market share.

Made according to a new improved recipe, cooked in a new oil and with better packaging to keep it fresher for longer, Ed is hoping the new Midas Crisp will be the springboard for Golden Wonder's return to the top of the crisp league.

The odds may seem stacked against them, but the preliminary re-launch in Scotland has been judged a success.

And Golden Wonder are now planning to take their new crisp into England and Wales.

"Fat Profits: Crunch Time for Crisps" was broadcast on Wednesday 10 March at 1930 GMT on BBC Two.

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