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*I could find nowhere better to put my opinion - this will have to do!*
I was looking around Ciao recently and was amazed to find that I could not find, wherever I looked, an opinion on Marks & Spencer Food to Go. Food to Go is the new name for its sandwiches and general snacks – the ones that workers buy for lunch.
If you’ve ever entered a Marks & Spencer store at around 1pm on Monday lunchtime, you will see hundreds of people wearing smart suits all crowding round one particular part of the store. That part, of course, is the Marks & Spencer Sandwich Store.. bliss!
Other stores, such as Boots and WHSmith are all trying to take some of Marks’ business, but are failing. You see, Marks & Spencer is the king of two things – sandwiches and ladies underwear, and there’s nothing that will stop them.
Petrol stations are also trying to nab M&S’ business, but are miserably failing. The un-specialist food shops are trying to sell food, but there’s no point in even trying – or buying what they sell, because it’s often dry and tends to taste pretty nasty..
All the people at M&S’ Baker Street HQ wanted to have all of the snacks known commonly known under one ‘brand’. So they scrapped StMichael (thank God) and their snack selection is now called (breath in) Marks & Spencer Food to Go..
And, of course, you have to remember it’s two dots after the Go, not three – that’s why I’m only using two dots in this opinion. You can identify FtG rather easily – it comes in a pack with a slanted ‘label’ which is silver and green. Not difficult!
Products in the FtG Selection…
M&S are slowly adding new products to the FtG selection. But most of what’s there now is merely its old products with some different packaging. The newest additions are what were formerly known as ‘Sparkle’. But there’s more about that a little later.
FtG is also the M&S brand that covers all of its sandwiches, undoubtedly a huge responsibility. There are also other things in the range, such as crisps, cakes, fruits, drinks, sweets.. I could certainly carry on for a little while, but back to the opinion..
I’m not going to tell you a little bit about each sub-range (eg Crisps) and then give the selection a rating out of five. This is how the five is made up: 2 marks for taste overall in the range. 2 for size of range, and one mark is available for packaging and presentation.
So let us begin..
M&S now have a very large selection of canned drinks, which were formerly known as Fruit Sparkle. They all taste very good – I have tested them all, and I am very satisfied overall with them. Just be careful, because some have been shaken about a little!
There is apple, orange, grapefruit.. and I believe that there are more. If you can think of others, then please let me know, because my mind has gone rather blank at this present moment! So for canned drinks, it’s top marks – 5/5.
*M&S also have Cola available but it is not currently part of the FtG range, however, they are currently deciding whether or not it should be added to their selection. Cola has not been included as it was not part of the FtG range at time of writing. Thanks!*
Although most of the bottled drinks have yet to be added, they are often displayed with the FtG range and are due to be added shortly. Things such as water, Quest (thirst quencher), still lemonade etc are all soon to be added to the Food to Go range.
They are all very good, and have clear, sharp flavours, and do not taste artificial but fresh and they do cool you down on hot days! The Quest drink comes in a very good ‘Sports Bottle’, which is great. Another 5/5 for bottled drinks. Well done M&S!
For many years, M&S have sold cartons of drinks. Now, they have all been made members of the FtG range. I must say, however, that I am not the greatest fan of M&S cartons. The apple juice I especially dislike – the idea of apple juice with bits is not nice.
However, the orange juice is ok, and they also sell more cartons, with a range of different flavours. All the packets come with a straw, but I have experienced problems with trying to stab that foil. 0 (Taste)+ 2(Range)+ 1(Packaging)=3/5. Never mind.
M&S’ fame and glory – don’t tell me you’ve never tried an M&S sandwich! With their soft bread nicely refrigerated and the cold pieced of tomato falling out of the edges of the crust – it really is absolutely gorgeous. M&S have heaps of sandwiches, all great.
M&S have recently responded to complaints – many customers have been complaining about the labels being difficult to read – the writing was small and the labels on at an angle. So they have been changed. The writing is now big and the labels are straight.
There are literally hundreds of subs, rolls, baps, sandwiches and other things available in the M&S FtG range. They all have excellent fillings and always taste fresh. I just can’t list all the different sandwiches - there are too many, but I recommend a ploughman’s!
For sandwiches, I decided I would give a mark out of ten, merely because it is such a huge selection. There are three marks for selection, one for bread, two for filling, two for packaging and two for quality. The score is: 3+1+2+2+2 = 10/10
They have lots of different flavours of crisps. They are still in the process of transferring all their crisps to FtG, but I will tell you about them anyway. There are many different types of crisp: crinkle cut, normal, hand made, low fat, high fat.. there are loads!
Marks & Spencer has the most comprehensive range of crisps I’ve seen. They all taste good, and they also have lots of top-quality savoury snacks, all delicious as you would expect. And once again, it’s top marks for crisps. Yet another 5/5 – very good.
Cakes, fruits and sweets..
Also available are small packets of sweets, and individually wrapped slices of cake etc. And around the Food to Go area of the store, you’ll also find some pieces of fruit, such as loose oranges and bananas, all very reasonably priced, and also very, very tasty.
Everything in this department is top-quality and satisfyingly tasty. The packages are clearly marked so you know exactly what you are buying and are not confused. The cake packages are also transparent so you can take a peek! 5/5 here – outstanding!
Salads and Coleslaws..
There is also a large range of salads and coleslaws available, which I do not usually eat. But for the sake of this opinion, I had to try some, so I did. I was most satisfied with the products I ate from their large range. They tasted good and looked very appetising.
I looked at the ingredients and found that they were pretty healthy and rather good. So I was enjoying some very good food, which wasn’t too expensive and was also healthy for me – what more could I ask? Another full marks – 5/5 for salad and coleslaw!
So, the overall mark for Marks & Spencer Food to Go is.. 38/40. Certainly a very respectable mark. A very good all-round store; only the cartons that fail them. But they do have a wide selection of other drinks available if you don’t like cartons anyway.
Let’s take a look at some of the other aspects of the store..
In most of M&S’ larger stores there are individual FtG checkouts, which can be identified by the large sign that says ‘Food to Go.. Express Till.’ ..A bit of a giveaway. There are also forks, spoons and straws available at the checkouts, which is great.
Nothing will set you back too much at the Food to Go section, although M&S can charge a little more because it does have a mini-monopoly in this area. But it is worth paying that little bit extra for that quality you know that you are getting.
M&S Financial Situation..
It was announced yesterday that M&S overall sales had fallen again. But it was little mentioned that food sales had actually increased by 3%. It is clothing that drags them down. What M&S really need to do is to just focus on what they do best – food.
Food to Go really is great for whoever you are. There are foods to suit everyone – children, anorexics, old men (I though I would mention myself), young businesswomen (I thought I would mention my dream wife) and nice kids (well, we can all dream..).
Marks & Spencer, you really have to be congratulated on this one – your FtG range really is rather enviable. Forget Smith’s, Boots or anyone else. Food to Go really is that one area of the food market where Marks & Spencer is the true leader. Well done!
*For more information on M&S, please keep an eye open for my opinion on Marks & Spencer, coming soon, or you could check out my opinion on Marks and Spencer Foodhall, entitled ‘High quality and the rest is high too’.*