Marks and Spencer is planning to bring something new to Christmas tables this year with the launch of a free-range turkey that the retailer believes is tastier than rival birds.
The new turkey, which is being supplied by O’Kane Poultry, is bigger breasted and has been fed on a diet similar to that used for the Oakham chickens that are exclusive to Marks and Spencer. The bird is produced by crossing a normal hen with a slow-growing, bigger-breasted male.
Andrew Mackenzie, M&S category manager for meat, poultry and fish, said the development was part of its strategy of introducing points of difference in its protein fixture, since innovation was a great way of boosting shopper loyalty.
He told the Egg and Poultry Industry Conference that this strategy - and the M&S sense of “restless dissatisfaction” - was driving it to find ways of improving the eating quality, freshness, flavour and taste of its meat, fish and poultry.
That thinking led to the development of the Oakham chicken, which Mackenzie said had gone down well with consumers. The Oakham concept has also been applied to pork with the development of the Muirden range, and Mackenzie said M&S continued to look at all its protein ranges.
M&S is also planning to shake-up the egg fixture in the next couple of weeks with the arrival of eggs that it believes will be fresher than anything on the market, thanks to a better diet for the birds, improved handling and more frequent collections from suppliers.
Julian Hunt