Why there's a shortage of Walkers Crisps - and when they will be back on shelves

Crisps have been emptied from shelves after a computer glitch that occurred during an upgrade to Walkers’ computers systems slowed production (Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

Crisps have become the latest product to be affected by widespread shortages around the country, after Walkers said production on some of its “more niche” varieties had been slowed.

But unlike the problems seen in recent weeks that have affected everything from petrol supplies to Haribo and McDonald’s in the run-up to Christmas, the lack of potato-based goods isn’t being caused by the UK’s dearth of HGV drivers.

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Instead, a technical glitch discovered as the company was upgrading its computer systems seems to be to blame for the latest snack scarcity.

Here is everything you need to know about it.

What has caused the shortage?

“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,” a Walkers spokesperson told The Guardian.

Fans of the firm’s most popular products - including cheese and onion, ready salted and salt and vinegar crisps, as well as Quavers and Wotsits cheese puffs - should have less trouble finding their desired snacks on shelves.

Walkers have said production on its “more niche” varieties had been slowed.

Though they did not confirm which lines had been affected, Walkers also produces popular items such as its Oven Baked and ridged ‘Max’ rangers, as well as Monster Munch.

When will Walkers crisps be back on shelves?

“We’re doing everything we can to increase production and get people’s favourites back on shelves,” said the snack spokesperson. “We’re very sorry for the inconvenience caused.”

It is expected that the issue could last until the end of the month of November.

Why have there been so many shortages recently?

While Walkers’ issues stem from a very particular problem, the crisp shortage is just the latest in a long-line that has been affecting British consumers for some weeks.

Customers may have noticed that shelves in many supermarkets and shops have looked rather bare in parts lately, partly as a result of a shortage of lorry drivers in the UK.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has said there is a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers, from a pre-Covid total of around 600,000.

This has increased significantly, although there was a shortage of about 60,000 drivers prior to Covid, primarily because of changes to migration rules as a result of Brexit.

Because the UK is no longer part of the single market, in which HGV drivers can move across borders more freely, many European drivers have opted to work solely within EU countries.

The increased bureaucracy involved in travelling to and from the UK often means increased costs to drivers who are paid for distance, rather than time.

And changes to the UK’s tax regime post-Brexit can also mean working in the UK is less attractive for many HGV drivers.

The pandemic has also impacted the number of HGV drivers in the UK, with many European drivers who were still in the UK heading home because of travel restrictions.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, NationalWorld