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Food & Household

We are a major multinational retailer headquartered in the UK. We sell high quality, great value products to millions of customers through our stores in the UK and wholly-owned, jointly or franchised stores in over 50 territories across Europe, Asia and the Middle East. 

Our products use thousands of raw materials from over 70 countries. This global nature of our business means we and our supply chain face a number of sustainability challenges. The global population continues to grow, putting pressure on natural resources, resulting in volatile input costs. Climate change is increasingly creating extreme weather disruption across our value chain. This is against a backdrop of significant social, political and economic instability in certain areas where we operate and source from, and at a point where there are significant growing global concerns around health and wellbeing. Our customers and employees are increasingly interested in all aspects of our products’ integrity, including quality, provenance, product safety, animal welfare and responsible sourcing. 

We are a food specialist, not a supermarket. Our products are made exclusively for M&S and this unique position means they are not comparable with the rest of the market. We’re known for the quality, innovation and specialty of our food which in 2015/16 represented 58% of our turnover. We offer high quality food ranging from prepared meals, sandwiches and desserts through to farm produce, wine and flowers and household products. Our Food Group is responsible for ensuring these products are of the highest quality and our suppliers maintain the same standards – guaranteeing we deliver the inspirational products our customers expect. 

Commitments and targets
We are an international multi-channel retailer that aims to lead on sustainability in our sector.

Plan A is at the heart of our ambitions to realise this goal and enable us to fulfil our core purpose of making every moment special. We are committed to improving the sustainability of our products which has been underpinned by a number of Plan A 2020 commitments. 

Approach
We’re constantly evolving and improving our ranges, our quality and our innovation. We renew around a quarter of our product ranges each year. 

Our focus is on provenance, taste and excitement. We will not compromise on either our quality or our relationships with our suppliers. 

Plan A is integral to making this happen and in making our products more sustainable we aim to:

  • Adopt a sustainable approach to new product development and investment decisions
  • Embed sustainability within the sourcing of key raw materials and commodities
  • Promote and reward sustainable behaviour within our supply base
  • Help our customers live more healthy and sustainable lifestyles
We are predominantly an own-brand retailer, branded goods are a very small proportion of what we sell – around one per cent of total lines across the store. Plan A applies to our own products, operations, customers, employees and our supply base, however it does not apply to the supply chains of branded goods. A number of these suppliers do have their own, well respected sustainability programmes, for example Unilever. We work closely with some of these companies, sharing best practice and advice, however ultimately they are responsible for the standards applied to their branded products.  

We have a history of firsts behind us. Here are just a few examples:

Food Innovation Timeline

Since 2004, we’ve received over 50 awards in recognition of our accomplishments within the food arena. 

Our current sustainability priorities are as follows:

  • Securing the supply for all our key raw materials and commodities and ensuring that they are sourced with integrity
  • Maintaining our market leading position on public health by driving health and nutrition benefits across our entire product offer
  • Equipping our supply chain to be fit for the future through our industry-leading capacity building initiatives
  • Tackling food waste within our business and supply chain and engaging our customers to store and use food more efficiently
  • Being a retail leader on transparency by being as open as possible on the issues that matter most to our stakeholders
Over the last two years we've been working with Oxfam to help us understand what transparency means in the context of our food business. Specifically we asked Oxfam to see how we would score against their 'Behind the Brands' framework. This campaign has been designed to assess the largest consumer goods brands against their public positions on a number of rights based issues including land, gender, smallholder farming, water and climate change. Whilst not designed with retailers in mind we found this an extremely useful exercise as it highlighted a number of areas where we could be more open about what we do - particularly around our approach to sourcing raw materials and supplier management. We have taken this feedback on board as part of developing this website.  

Working with others
Listening, learning, responding and working in partnership is an important part of how we do business.

Many issues are too large or complex for us to tackle alone, so it is vital that we work with others. Our external partners have already provided solutions, improved our understanding of issues, aided us in building capacity within our supply base and helped us inspire our customers. Within our Food Group, we’re working with many different organisations, including the British Retail ConsortiumInstitute for Grocery Distribution (IGD)Consumer Goods ForumSAI GlobalFAI FarmsWWFRSPCA, and Marine Conservation Society, to name but a few.

Throughout this website, we explain how they, and our many other partners, are helping us address specific issues.

Find out more about our approach to supplier management


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Find out more about the organisations we've joined or collaborate with


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Find out more about our approach to capacity building


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Find out more about our approach to product standards


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Find out more about our approach to public health


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Find out more about our approach to reducing food waste


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Find out more about our approach to food research and technical innovation


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