Crisps Mini-Series: Tags

This is the third instalment of my mini-series focussing on Crisps.

Anyone that has been following my Food Adventures will know that I am a big fan of the crisps category; it’s fun, fast paced, innovative and driven by one overarching factor: taste. This was my favourite, and most valuable, category as a Retail Buyer and I had to keep my ear close to the ground with new product developments, competitor activity and sales driving initiatives. For an ambient product, crisps, have a relatively short shelf-life and therefore it was of utmost importance for me that the rate of sale is high and I wasn’t left with any dusty packets.

The market has undergone a change in the last five years as the consumer base has been made to feel increasingly guilty for eating foods that they enjoy and crisps are an easy target. Therefore suppliers have worked tirelessly to find the golden egg and produce a great tasting crisp that ticks a number of boxes for the health-conscious, calorie counters. In my opinion, the big boys have failed at this and only managed to produce different flavours of cardboard that aren’t going to satisfy anybody craving a hunger fix. This has led to the growth of a, still relatively, new sub-sector: popcorn. This mini-series is all about crisps and not the whole snacking category but it is worth noting that the growth of brands like Propercorn have chipped (unintentional pun I promise!) away at the share held by potato crisps in the aisle and this trend doesn’t appear likely to slow down any time soon. A fact that demonstrates this seismic shift is that, in the last couple of weeks, Propercorn have been named as branded Snacks Supplier of the Year in 2015 by The Grocer.

So potato crisps have to react…

The artisanal world of crisps has exploded making it a very saturated market so the need for differentiation and something that allows your product to raise its head above the parapet is key. The mainstream market is dominated by very few, very large suppliers but they are very poor at reacting to trends leaving a bit of an open goal for smaller producers. However, this blatant opportunity also created a bottleneck with a plethora brown paper brands springing up almost overnight. The problem that I faced as a buyer presented with a deluge of options was how to make the right choice. They were all great quality, hand cooked crisps with an endearing heritage and backstory. A small supplier has a number of tools within its gift to create that point of difference (brand, flavours, packaging, marketing, target audience) but achieving the utopia of a unique proposition is no easy task.

However this mini-series is about more than just reviewing a selection of crisps. No, it’s much more than that. This blog is about reclaiming the meaning of quality, potato-based, snacking. I grew up with Kettle being a treat that was savoured only on special occasions but for too long has that ‘premium’ brand let me down. No bag of crisps that features on the shelves of B&M can boast a premium appeal. In fact I was in my local Lifestyle Express the other week and I saw a bag of Kettle crisps with a £1.29 price-mark on a Buy One Get One Free promotion. The buyer in me thought, ‘what an amazing deal, why wasn’t I ever offered that?’ but a little part of my crisp-loving soul cracked, broke off and shattered like the greasy little crumbs in the corner of the bag. 64.5p per bag of ‘premium’ crisps? No sir, I’m not having that!

Right, enough of that! On with my review…

Product Review: Tags Crisps

Rating: 9.5/10

Appeals to: real crisp fans, if you want to embarrass your Walkers-eating friends then do it with this crisp!


The packaging is very market appropriate. It’s absolutely inline with a shopper’s expectations on what a premium crisp should look like: it’s matte, it has rustic imagery and a great food shot. Spot on!


£1.48 (125g bag) – this is perfectly priced to be competitive in the industry. £1.48 is a great every day price for a sharing crisp and it gives them the flexibility to sell on promotion at £1. These crisps at £1 should fly!


The delivery is what makes Tags different. When the founder of the company went on Dragon’s Den the potential investors commented that Tags were the best crisps they had ever tasted; and I have to concur! They are a proper crisp. Thick cut, skin-on and full of flavour that doesn’t come off on your fingers. You won’t find a better tasting crisp on the market.

Malt Vinegar and Sea Salt

Tags crisps have a great crunch that releases the high quality ingredients and the rich malt vinegar rushes through the salty snack giving a great finish.

Sweet Chilli

This isn’t like any other sweet chilli flavour that I’ve tasted before. It has a really sweet, Chinese spice filled with a strong fennel flavour that dances beautifully with the paprika and tomato tones.

Mature Cheddar and Red Onion

Here is my favourite Tags crisp. It’s phenomenal. The sweet red onion hides behind an intense, mature cheddar that work together to deliver an outstanding crisp.

Sea Salted

Brilliant! This is the most pure Tags crisp that allows you taste the fantastic quality ingredients and the detailed manufacturing process.

Verdict – in a word, winning! It’s always a risk producing such well known flavours but Tags aren’t afraid and nor should they be! In a saturated market you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd – Tags are doing it by being better. I salute you!


Northern Munkee.


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