Something that became miserably clear to me last week: Marks & Spencers have brutally culled their sandwich range – goodbye most of the black-label “food to go” range which brought us the Steak & Blacksticks Blue sandwich (probably the nicest EVER CREATED by a British supermarket chain) among others. The black-labels have been replaced by an odd range of tortillas, kinda-sorta-open sandwiches and things which look like someone’s started making a wrap and wandered off before the actual wrapping happens. All these new things cost a lot and have visibly less filling – not surprising given the cost squeeze on food suppliers as prices rise.

There’s been another subtle change in the sandwich range though: everything possible is now branded “British”. Ham and cheddar is now British Ham and Cheddar; British Chicken and British Beef feature prominently. This vaguely irked me but from a marketing POV emphasising British provenance is a win-win at the moment: it appeals to one segment because it feels less carbon-intensive, and to another (possibly quite different) segment because, well, it’s British. “Buy British” has in the past been associated with an appeal to protectionist, socially conservative ‘little Englander’ values, which won’t have been wholly absent from M&S’ calculations, seeing as the M&S brand itself is a bastion of home counties Englishness. I think the confidence with which they’re using it here though is a reflection of the rise in respectability of British food and British cookery over the last decade. Presented right, “British” has become a premium label as well as a simple patriotic one – which handily lets M&S shunt up sandwich prices as food costs spiral.

All of which doesn’t help me at lunchtime as my options continue to narrow – something has gone very wrong with Pret in the last six months or so, too. At this rate I may have to actually keep my regular resolution of making my own sammiches.

(crossposted with Blackbeard Blog)