Ditty’s, Stag, Mara and more join M&S artisan range
Mara Seaweed, Suki Tea, Halen Môn sea salt and Ditty’s oatcakes are among a clutch of fine food brands going on-shelf in Marks & Spencer as the multiple lists a selection of British specialities under their producers’ names for the first time.
Famed for the strength of its own-brand food offer, M&S has only previously carried overseas brands under their own names in its artisan range.
M&S Product development manager Melissa Webb said: “We’re really proud of the latest collection of artisan, branded foods. This is the first time we’ve featured anything from the UK, and from April there will be over 20 new foods and ingredients from great suppliers across the British Isles.”
Mara Seaweed’s dulse flakes will now be on sale in 173 M&S food halls across the UK and are among four products in the new range that feature seaweed. The others are seaweed oakcakes and water biscuits from Stag Bakeries on the Isle of Lewis, and ship’s biscuits from The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Co.
Mara Seafoods co-founder and chief executive Fiona Houston said: “Launching as a branded product in Marks & Spencer is a huge step for us, and shows that seaweed is now firmly on the British menu.”
Great British BBQ rub and Bloody Mary rub (both FFD Editors’ Choice winners at last year’s Harrogate Fine Food Show) and Hurstwood Farm’s Kentish cobnut oil (Great Taste supreme champion in 2010) are also on the 24-strong British artisan food list, together with two chutneys from Mrs Bennett’s in Suffolk, Roastworks espresso and Bacheldre Watermill smoked flour.
While the M&S move will raise eyebrows among independents already concerned at Waitrose’s strength in artisan-style foods, Mara Seafoods’ marketing executive Evie Dunne said the Edinburgh-based firm had no plans to push further into supermarkets.
“We will always be a branded, premium, high-end product,” she told FFD. “M&S have an exclusive on only one of our seaweeds – dulse – for multiples in the UK. We are still pitching ourselves towards the fine food and gift market.”
M&S’s Melissa Webb said: “Mara Seaweed taps into a trend we see growing through 2015, as shoppers start to understand how seaweed is used and search it out to use when baking or to season dishes.”