Pop Works & Co

Pop Works & Co is being brought over from the US

PepsiCo is muscling in on Butterkist’s territory as the Tangerine Confectionery-owned popcorn brand waits to be sold off.

With Butterkist’s immediate future unclear after Tangerine’s private equity owner Blackstone instructed Stamford Partners in July to find a buyer - in spite of buoyant sales - PepsiCo is looking to take advantage with the UK launch of Pop Works & Company, an ‘indulgent’ popcorn from the US.

The ‘cinema-style’ snack is ‘wet popped’ - meaning the corn kernels expand in a kettle as opposed to a hot-air popper - and available in four variants formulated to suit British tastes: Sweet & Salty, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Peanut Butter & Caramel, and Apple Pie (rsp: £1.50/90g).

PepsiCo said the Pop Works launch marked “a unique and unexpected” addition to the category, which is worth £85.7m in value sales, having risen by 25.4%, with volumes up by 18.7% [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 3 January 2016]. “Our research showed popcorn was rooted in family movie nights. We saw the opportunity to broaden appeal beyond this.”

The brand’s arrival in the UK will be backed by digital activity supported by experiential shopper marketing, and the brand will team up with social media influencers and vloggers to create “entertaining content”.

Pop Works will be made in Leicester, though PepsiCo insisted it was separate from the Walkers facility - and the new snack was not a Walkers sub-brand.

It is positioned as ‘indulgent’ and is sweeter than Walkers-branded popcorn such as Mixups, which offers 17.9g of sugar per 100g in its version of Sweet & Salty, against the 28g in Pop Works’ equivalent. However, the snack giant has in the past released standalone lines. In 2009, it introduced Red Sky crisps, which had no Walkers branding.

However, the brand proved unsuccessful and was axed in 2014.