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New M&S Food dedicated team to supercharge disruptive innovation

M&S Food is launching the Innovation Hub, a new specialist team that will focus on disruptive innovation to create industry-leading products and address some of the biggest sector-wide challenges.

The Innovation Hub, launching in January, supports M&S Food’s strategy to protect the magic whilst modernising the rest—building on the brand’s market leading innovation and long history of first to market products, such as developing refrigeration in its supply chain to offer retail’s first fresh chicken in the 1960s.

By galvanising emerging trends, consumer insight and the latest technology, the team will also help M&S Food to spearhead sustainability solutions, including soya-alternative proteins for plant-based foods and the latest in material science to reduce plastic packaging.

Stuart Machin, M&S Food’s Managing Director, commented, “Creating a dedicated team with the sole purpose of driving disruptive innovation will support us in being more relevant to our customers. 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.”

The nine-strong team spanning packaging, nutrition, product innovation and business development will be made up of existing M&S experts as well as being bolstered by the recruitment of new talent to drive its Food transformation.

A key part of the Innovation Hub will include partnering with technology-led businesses such as alternative protein supplier 3F Bio. This partnership will help M&S Food to build on its 18.5% market share* of plant protein ranges and expand its delicious Plant Kitchen range with 3F Bio’s unique mycoprotein, Abunda - a game-changing protein made from a natural fungus and produced using a zero-waste process.

Another priority area for the Innovation Hub will be packaging, helping to accelerate M&S Food’s plan to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic after its removal of over 2,000 tonnes and elimination of black plastic. The Innovation Hub will explore emerging innovations to find alternatives to plastic that maintain product protection and quality.

Headed up by former Head of Food Technology for convenience Dom Darby, the Innovation Hub will report directly into April Preston, M&S Food’s Director of Product Development and will work in collaboration with the technology and insight functions.

Ahead of the Innovation Hub’s full-scale launch in January, M&S Food has started recruitment for the three new roles including Business Development Manager, Packaging Innovation Manager and Product Innovation Manager.