This is not just meat, this is M&S meat...

Marks & Spencer has overhauled its meat category in a bid to improve its offer to customers.

Alongside developments in added-value and expanding its core range of meat, the retailer is also repositioning the category into pole position within its stores, next to the fruit and veg aisles. Added-value meat products, such as beef, dry-aged on the bone for 28 days, will also be displayed in prominent, end-of-aisle displays.

Ian Bentley, trading executive, protein and agriculture, said the focus on meat is serious: "Getting pole position in stores does not come lightly."

The move is part of a six-month project to reassess M&S's meat category, said Win Merrells, product developer. "We wanted to look at our meat quality and see whether it was as good as we thought it was - and, perhaps in some instances, it wasn't quite there."

Taking inspiration from the independent butchery sector, M&S took a fresh look at its offer and has now launched 15 new added-value products and a further core 15 'ingredients' lines, with more to follow in the New Year. "It's all about ensuring people can do a complete shop at Marks & Spencer," said buyer Lorraine Provest-Eames. "In the past you could get steak, but you might have struggled to find lamb shoulder."

Recipe cards are also being used for the first time to support the category and give customers ideas. The move is also aimed at encouraging people to get back into cooking, said Provest-Eames. "There are a lot more cooks out there now, and we're acknowledging that there are people who want to scratch cook."

The changes have also allowed better carcase utilisation by M&S, said Merrells, and a number of new products featured more traditional lower-value cuts, such as shoulder of lamb or pork shoulder. "We're using cheaper cuts, but we're adding value and using them indulgently," she said.

Bentley added: "Carcase utilisation is far better with this range. So, from our suppliers' point of view, it's good news."

The range includes duck legs with buttered onion stuffing, lamb rack with lemon and thyme crust, and lamb noisettes with minted pea butter.