M&S’s selection of ready-to-eats and drinks is like no other – healthy, sustainable and of-themoment.
When one whines and complains to another for, oh, about six years, the latter will eventually give in. The constant barrage of “Why doesn’t Singapore have a chilled food section?”, from shoppers who kept comparing M&S Food Hall in Hong Kong and the flagship here at Wheelock Place, finally got the UK brand to make its famous ready-to-eats and fresh produce a new and permanent addition from Aug 30. So what is it about Marks & Spencer’s food that makes people go kind of Pokemon crazy? “Remember the horsemeat scandal in Europe in 2013? Where the ‘beef’ in minced beef wasn’t all beef but horsemeat and pork?” asks Tom Gray, 34, M&S’s regional food sales manager, Asia. “When that happened, Marks & Spencer became the last refuge; it’s the only name and place that consumers trust and know a beef patty is exactly what it is.” That implicit trust may have something to do with the company’s Plan A, an ethical and environmental mantra – to source responsibly, reduce waste and help communities – that was introduced almost nine years ago. Plan A 2020 is the second chapter of the initiative with 100 new, revised and existing commitments. The aim: to be the world’s most sustainable major retailer.
M&S Cafe off ers great Brit traditions like fish and chips, and faves like pasta and pizza. At #01-K2 Wheelock Place, by the entrance that faces Far East Shopping Centre.
The chilled section is small compared to most supermarkets, but the variety isn’t; at any one time, it has almost 600 items – a combo of produce and fresh eats – on the shelves. The other pull factor: The choices re ect what sophisticated consumers are liking now (the kind in Jamie Oliver’s programmes). A mix of classics (tomato and basil soup, spinach quiche, profiterole) and stuff that’s in line with the new food trend/movement – all in healthy portions. Feeling quinoa today? Get your fill of it in a salad that also has another good-for-you ingredient – edamame. Nuts are your new protein? There’s the Nutty Super Wholefood salad. Juices are in their natural state (like coconut water), or pressed (the in thing), or in a smoothie. And ready-to-cook pasta like ravioli comes with butternut squash, the veggie du jour. The well-priced selection pretty much covers lunch, dinner and bites in-between. If and when it doesn’t – because you prefer your food piping hot and cooked on the spot – M&S’s first tableservice cafe, a 60-seater, will. The new-to-the-world concept (M&S’s cafes in other countries off er only counter service) marries typical English (fish and chips, afternoon tea) and all-time faves (pizza, sandwiches, pasta). Price range: $2.50 for a soft drink to $29.90 for a high-tea set for two.
Each of these soups serves two full helpings.
Price range: $2.50 for a trial-sized piece of cheese to $23.90 for a cheeseboard with a variety of cheeses.
HOW M&S’s CHILLED SECTION WORKS
Tom Gray, its regional food sales director, Asia, explains.
• The vast selection comes from a catalogue of 650 items determined by the UK office – a compilation of the UK’s and Hong Kong’s bestsellers, and what locals would like.
• All food and drinks have no preservatives that are meant to extend their shelf life.
• Most of the products have a longer shelf life than what’s stated on the sell-by date. An expiration date = the date that the product’s flavour is at its peak, not when it’s bad.
• To reduce waste, it’s working with The Food Bank Singapore to distribute its expired food.