Proof is in the pudding: M&S and Waitrose win Christmas food test

Marks & Spencer and Waitrose have swept the board in an independent taste test of this year’s Christmas food and drink, both clinching first place in three categories of the UK’s festive favourites.

M&S was awarded top spot for its Christmas pudding, gravy and frozen turkey in the annual exercise by the Good Housekeeping Institute, while its rival, Waitrose, triumphed in the Christmas cake, champagne and yule log listings and was also rated for a vegan centrepiece.

Elsewhere in the rankings the coffee chain Costa was hailed for the tastiest mince pies in two categories – classic and gluten-free – and the discount supermarket Lidl secured the top award for best meat-free centrepiece.

In its quest to find the best the Good Housekeeping taste-test team and a consumer panel ate and drank their way through 423 festive foods from more than 52 stockists and brands across 21 categories. Testers assess appearance, aroma and flavour, and score each product out of 100.

Positive recommendations in such national taste tests can empty supermarket shelves with products selling out. With an unprecedented “lockdown” Christmas looming the team has ensured the bulk of products are available online and in store.

“We all know that this Christmas is going to be very different to last year,” said Alexandra Hale, the food and drink specialist at Good Housekeeping. “That’s why we think the public deserve to know where to spend their hard-earned money to ensure they have the best-tasting food and drink possible this Christmas. We’ve tested more products than ever before and hope that consumers feel as informed as ever as the festive season approaches.”

Taking the overall turkey crown this year is M&S, in first place for the second year running with its frozen stuffed Oakham turkey crown and scoring 92 out of 100.

Of the record number of vegetarian and vegan foods on offer this year, Lidl’s caramelised onion and goat’s cheese tartlets trumped the overall meat-free category. The favourite vegan choice was Waitrose’s vegan festive swirls, a mix of caramelised tomatoes, red peppers, spinach and herbs inside a filo pastry case.

Testers also quaffed 11 supermarket own-label champagnes, with Waitrose’s Blanc de Noirs Brut non-vintage rated highest for its “smooth bubbles and beautifully balanced, rich and fruity flavour”. The runner-up was Aldi’s Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut, “combining quality with affordability”.

April Preston, the director of food product development at M&S, said: “We are absolutely thrilled our products have come out on top in this year’s Good Housekeeping Christmas taste test.”

The Guardian

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