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British Airways drops M&S for short-haul economy food – Greggs to take over?

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British Airways has announced, via The Sun, that it has terminated its contract with Marks & Spencer to provide ‘buy on board’ food for short-haul economy passengers.

In a short statement, BA said:

We’re off on a new flight path.

“We look forward to announcing our exciting new buy-on-board proposition with a great British brand that customers have told us they love.”

This is believed to be either Greggs or Waitrose, with The Sun reporting that both companies have submitted proposals.

There could be a link with Avios dropping Tesco, with Waitrose potentially getting the on-board contract and becoming the Avios supermarket partner. This also makes it less likely that M&S/Ocado will get the Avios deal.

British Airways and Marks and Spencers food

But M&S doesn’t really provide BA catering …..

It is a common misconception that M&S actually ‘provides’ the food in short-haul economy. In truth, Tourvest – the supplier – buys a small number of M&S items and adds them to its existing range of products. If you count down the menu, the percentage which is branded M&S product is relatively small.

Whilst introducing buy on board was controversial when introduced, in truth it was a mercy killing for the existing offering. BA had actually fallen behind other airlines – on BA, you would get a drink and a small bag of pretzels. There was no other alternative even if you were hungry. Other carriers, whilst charging, did at least have a full offering.

Unfortunately, BA screwed it up. In various trips with Vueling, easyJet and Ryanair over the past couple of years, it has been clear that all have a far broader range – with better availability – than British Airways. Simply swapping an M&S sandwich for a Waitrose one, both of which are likely to come from the same factory anyway, won’t change that.

Comments (187)

  • Neil says:

    Makes perfect sense that it is now Waitrose! Hence why Tesco was dropped – you can shop and earn points at Waitrose and then spend these points onboard

  • Anna says:

    I wonder if they will offer the very popular Gregg’s breakfast combo of bacon/sausage roll plus hot drink for £2.20?

  • Peter Mc says:

    The CW breakfast on my MCO-LGW flight back in March could have been a Gregg’s vegan sausage roll.

  • zebrum says:

    Remember when Greggs was kicked out of Glasgow airport for not agreeing to charge rip-off prices?

    • BP says:

      Yep. There’s been no good places to eat in GLA since the Eat chain closed that branch. A Boots meal deal seems to be the best option.

  • David D says:

    Sorry Anna, looks like you have a typo with the decimal point. I think you may have meant £22.00. 😉

  • Oh! Matron! says:

    If Gregg’s, may I ask if there’s a low that BA can’t sink to? I don’t want to criticise Gregg’s… It is what it is, but it’s not the quality brand that M&S is

    • Graham says:

      Why would it be a low, prey tell? M&S food varies in quality just like anywhere else. Certainly, you can almost guarantee that they will source sandwiches from the same factories as other brands do. I used to work at Lidl head office in Scotland. Their beef is sourced from the same M&S supplier but they’re not permitted to say anything.

      Like it or not, BA are going after a market paying LCC prices and are used to this variety of food. It’d make more business sense in my view than a Waitrose deal.

    • Genghis says:

      Some of the current M&S onboard offering is all fur coat and no knickers. Greggs offers decent honest food.

      • Anna says:

        Well said, Ghengis! And a bacon roll is a bacon roll whoever is selling it (though always enhanced by a glass of bubbly).

        • The real John says:

          Disagree, while the bread doesn’t matter that much, bacon comes in a wide range of quality (and the quality that BA J lounges serve at breakfast is not good, though I still eat them)

      • Lady London says:

        +1

    • Russ says:

      Well Greggs wouldn’t have the same brand impact BA aspires to plus, Waitrose already have a locker grocery pick up facility at airports.

      • Char Char says:

        Perhaps you have never flown BA CE, Greggs would be an upgrade for ALL their food

    • Fenny says:

      I’d rather eat food from Gregg’s than M&S. At least it’s not pretentious and overpriced. On the odd occasion I’ve had food from M&S, I’ve not noticed it being of higher quality than any other sandwich outlet.

      What I really want is a good solid ham butty on a wholemeal roll without all the mayo and associated other guff. I’m not a fan of salad in sarnies. It just makes it all damp.

      • BP says:

        When working in consultancy I got to sample the lunchtime delights of most major supermarkets when out an about on client sites. I found M&S to be far superior to the rest of the supermarkets.

        • Sunguy says:

          This definitely **USED** to be the case….. for example, the M&S at Moorgate in London had one of the best hot food takeaways and Ive had from an M&S, it was well portioned, a number of things on the menu, not badly priced (for the city) and alwyas busy….however, from a high about 3 years ago to at least Feb last year, the quality fell substantially – they were forever running out of stuff (like at 11am and no replenishment) and stopped doing 2/3 of the menu. I dont remember the last time I walked into that store and found a cheese and ham baguette available after 11.30am – excuse is always, the sandwich prep folks finish at 11 and there are none left.

          They even have a full weekday every few months where they close the instore bakery for maintenance (given the store is closed at weekends – seems a bit negligent to me).

          Anwyays – rant over…..

          • Lady London says:

            That M&S Food at Moorgate must have been a goldmine. I remember it well, always packed. At that time, still did breakfast at Birley’s though – all gone now

          • Alex Sm says:

            My colleagues used to walk all the way from Bond St to Marble Arch for their roasted chicken – £5 for half chicken or so! Those were the days!

  • C says:

    I’ve said this repeatedly…the branding is irrelevant. BA could regain large amounts of goodwill by adopting the US catering model, offering free non-alcoholic drinks and BOB snacks and other items. With or without that approach, Silver/Gold (and OW equivalent) should get a free fo item. While food sale revenue would go down slightly, this would be a significant differentiator versus the LCCs, likely enhancing ticket revenue. It’s time to think beyond bean counting, and to selling a customer experience.

    • marcw says:

      OW and BA frequent travellers, as a general rule, will keep flying BA regardless.

      • Jonathan says:

        Not always if there’s other options

        If you also regularly use Star Alliance or SkyTeam airlines, then what’s stopping someone using one of the other airlines in the airlines groups for the same route?

        If I was travelling domestically in US (not going to be happening anytime soon !!) I wouldn’t solely target American Airlines flights, and or Alaska Airlines purely to be earning Avios if other options are available

  • Catalan says:

    Whether it be Waitrose or Greggs it’ll still look better than that excuse for a meal we saw pictures of in Virgin Upper Class a few days ago.