Tayto Crisps – a taste of home

While talking about my home town Tandragee in previous posts, one very famous brand of crisps that all Northern Irish people know and love is made in ‘Tayto Castle’ (yes it is a castle) in Tandragee.

Tandragee Castle, the home of Tayto (N.I.) Ltd. and Champion Crisps, is to be found in rural Co. Armagh.  The castle was built in the early 17th century by the O’Hanlon’s (a powerful Irish clan), and later became the home of the Duke of Manchester.

During the Second World War the castle was requisitioned by the War Department and both British and American troops were stationed there during that time.  However, after the war the castle lay unoccupied until Thomas Hutchinson (a local business man), Fred McKinney and Walter Gracey bought the castle and 200 acres of woodland and grazing land in 1955.  Thomas Hutchinson had the foresight to recognise the potential of a new potato product called crisps, and decided to manufacture them himself to secure sufficient quantities to meet the rapidly increasing demand.  One year later, production of potato crisps began in the castle. In those early days production per day was 54 tins (not boxes) with 18 packets in each tin – a total of 972 packets a day.

Tom Hutchinson retired in the mid seventies, and with the involvement of the second generation of the Hutchinson family the Company began to expand rapidly to react and respond to marketing trends and demands.

In 1978 the current factory and on-site potato storage facilities were built and new machinery was installed.

In 1985 Ishida weighers, Wright packers and multipack machinery were introduced to meet the growing demand for multipacks, and to enable the Company to move into the multiple market which was becoming a major growth area.  At the same time, to maximise production and to meet a growing demand, the Company began to manufacture snacks.

In 1987 a 21,000 square feet packaging and finished goods warehouse was built, and to meet modern demands computer-controlled weighing and packaging machines were introduced.

1988 an environmentally-controlled potato store was built. This new store, part of a £2.5 million investment plan, has an area of 23,000 square feet and a capacity of 5,500 tonnes.

1991 saw the commencement of a £3.7 million investment involving the introduction of new Ishida, Robag and Sandiacre machinery.

1995 a Sortex computerised grading machine and a Cyclonic De-stoner were installed.   The Effluent Plant was upgraded to deal with the waste products associated with crisp and snack production.

Since the late 70s over £15 million has been invested in the Company. We have a production capacity of approximately 8 million packets per week and have the facility to pack in polypropylene, laminate and foil packaging materials. The current range of products is very wide, and encompasses children’s extruded snacks, adult fried pellet lines as well as 10 different crisp flavours.

The New Product Development programme is an extremely important part of our business with new products continually being researched and coming on stream. In September 1994 the Company acquired the manufacturing and marketing rights in Europe for a unique adult snack range which was launched under the name of Whisps. We are now actively seeking further agents and distributors to enhance our product sales in mainland Europe.  The geographical location of the factory, within easy reach of major sea and air ports, ensures the swift and reliable distribution of products.

To ensure the continued success of business in the 1990s a specially selected management team has been assembled.   Today, over forty years since the Company began, the Company employs between 320 and 350 people, depending on the time of the year.   As well as an Operations Department, it has a Sales Department, an Accounts Department, Quality Assurance, New Product Development, and an IT Department.

In 1996, in response to popular demand, the Tours Department was expanded, and in 1997 alone 20,000 people came to Tandragee Castle to see the famous Cheese & Onion crisps being made either as a family unit or as part of an educational programme.  We have a souvenir shop stocking different kinds of merchandise ranging from pencils to sweatshirts with prices to suit all pockets. Tours are by appointment only and are free of charge.  Tayto can now be accessed on the internet and the address is:  www.tayto.com.

Latest news;-

Tayto are in the final stages of a £7, 000, 000, 00 expansions this is to increase capacity for the new Fusion range.


CTO Holdings Ltd, an affiliate company of the Tayto Group, has confirmed the acquisition of the Golden Wonder Ltd business from the Administrators, Kroll.

Stephen Hutchinson, Managing Director of Tayto and a director of CTO Holdings Ltd, described the purchase of the Corby property and the acquisition of the business as a major boost to the growth plans of the company.

“Obviously a great deal of negotiation has gone on to get to this point, which we believe can only strengthen our reputation as a nationally recognized brand building company.

“This purchase will also involve the transfer of 195 jobs into the future and underpins the 350 jobs in Tandragee.

“The acquisition increases our employment figures dramatically and underpins the £7m investment completed at our Tandragee base last year. That investment, coupled with a sound reputation for producing top quality products, helped us secure a £10m contract from Tesco and significant additional orders from a wide range of national retailers.

“However, as a Group we have demonstrated that we are committed to growth through acquisition, development of our own Tayto brand


Tayto acquired Real Crisps which is located in Wales in the same year Redmil snacks was acquired.


Tayto acquired Jonathans Crisps and in the second half of the year Tayto was launch as the “Tayto Group”

2011 has seen the Purchase of Midland Snacks added to the portfolio

Tayto is a family owned and run business with a 50 year pedigree in manufacturing at the Tandragee headquarters where the company employs 350 people.

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