Wednesday 18 November 2020 1:53 pm

Marks & Spencer launches 'innovation hub' to expand plant-based food range

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has announced the launch of a “innovation hub” to develop sustainable food products.

The retailer announced today that the nine-strong innovation team, which will launch in January, will seek to capitalise on emerging trends, such as veganism and environmental causes, to become “more relevant” to its customers.

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Research will include soya-alternative proteins for plant-based foods and how to reduce plastic packaging.

M&S will partner with alternative protein supplier 3F Bio to expand its 18.5 per cent market share of plant-based food ranges.

The team, which will be made up of current M&S staff as well as new hires, will be led by former head of food technology Dom Darby, who will report to April Preston, M&S Food’s director of product development.

The company has begun the recruitment process for a new business development manager, packaging innovation manager and product innovation manager ahead of next year’s launch.

M&S said the creation of the specialist hub builds on its history of retail innovation, such as developing refrigeration in its supply chain to offer retail’s first fresh chicken in the 1960s.

M&S Food managing director Stuart Machin said: “Creating a dedicated team with the sole purpose of driving disruptive innovation will support us in being more relevant to our customers. 

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“But it’s not just about relevancy today; the Innovation Hub will enable us to track emerging trends and insights, so we’re one step ahead in responding to our customers’ needs in the future. 

“The team will play a key role in helping us to build an even bigger and better food range and show customers that we’re taking action to address the sustainability issues they care about most – so that our actions today protect the planet for tomorrow.”