Ocado's dumping Waitrose for M&S sparking panic in the shires. But which is ...

They're wailing into their quails’ eggs, choking over their ciabattas and weeping bitter tears onto the wagyu beef. Ocado, the deity of Middle England, has jumped ship. For millions, it is more than just an online delivery service — it’s a way of life. How could it?

For the past 19 years, it has been in a perfect partnership with Waitrose. But, in a dramatic shake-up, all that is about to change.

This week, Marks & Spencer — Waitrose’s main High Street rival — bought a 50 per cent share in Ocado. The £1.5 billion deal means that, from September next year, the delivery giant will ditch Waitrose products in favour of M&S food and drink.

So just how do M&S staples stack up against Waitrose own-brand produce? From truffles to pepperoni pizzas, we put the two high-end outlets head-to-head in the ultimate taste test

So just how do M&S staples stack up against Waitrose own-brand produce? From truffles to pepperoni pizzas, we put the two high-end outlets head-to-head in the ultimate taste test

While M&S chief executive Steve Rowe claims Ocado customers will benefit, as M&S products are cheaper than their Waitrose equivalents, well-heeled shoppers aren’t so sure, branding it a ‘shame’ and a ‘crisis’. ‘My mum’s in tears,’ wrote one online commenter. ‘She’s absolutely devastated.’ Luckily, loyal Waitrose customers will still be able to order from waitrose.com.

So just how do M&S staples stack up against Waitrose own-brand produce? From truffles to pepperoni pizzas, we put the two high-end outlets head-to-head in the ultimate taste test…

ROAST CHICKEN 

You can cook Waitrose's chicken in a bag which means there's no mess and juices are locked in

You can cook Waitrose's chicken in a bag which means there's no mess and juices are locked in

Waitrose — Whole British chicken with ras el hanout marinade (1.5kg) 

PRICE: £6

TASTE: Succulent and tender, with a hint of spice, this is delicious — and roasts in just 80 minutes. You can cook it in the bag, so there’s no mess and the juices are locked in.

M&S — Whole British chicken with sweet and sticky marinade (1.55kg)

PRICE: £6.98

TASTE: The chicken is sweet and caramelised on the outside, but — in the 98 minutes recommended on the packaging — the meat inside has dried out. Drenched in gravy, it’s just about palatable.

Winner: Waitrose, by a mile. Its chicken is cheaper, less calorific and tastes better.

 

PORK SAUSAGES

M&S sausages shrivel up when grilled, but they're still a generous size and made of 77%  pork

M&S sausages shrivel up when grilled, but they're still a generous size and made of 77%  pork

Waitrose — 6 sweet and succulent sausages with caramelised red onion confit (400g)

PRICE: £3.29

TASTE: The sausages are fat, juicy and full of confit chunks… or is it gristle? They taste sweeter than I expected, and the onion almost overpowers the 80 per cent pork.

M&S — 6 caramelised onion sausages (400g)

PRICE: £3

TASTE: These shrivel up when grilled, but they’re still generous-sized sausages, made with 77 per cent pork, onion and plenty of seasoning. Far better than your average supermarket banger.

Winner: M&S. You get more meat for your money. Flavour-wise they’re hard to tell apart.

 

CHICKEN KIEVS

Waitrose chicken kievs are hefty and stuffed full of garlicky butter. The breadcrumbs are made from individually baked loaves

Waitrose chicken kievs are hefty and stuffed full of garlicky butter. The breadcrumbs are made from individually baked loaves

Waitrose — 2 British breast fillets with garlic and parsley butter (320g)

PRICE: £3.90

TASTE: These are hefty, stuffed full of garlicky butter. The breadcrumbs — made from individually baked loaves, which seems unnecessary — are crisp and the meat is juicy.

M&S — 2 Gastropub kievs with Cornish butter and wild garlic centre (450g)

PRICE: £7

TASTE: The creme de la creme of kievs, these are made with chicken on the bone, which seems a real waste of breadcrumbs. They could be a little more generous with the garlic butter inside.

Winner: Waitrose. It’s smaller than the M&S version but nearly half the price and just as tasty.

 

PEPPERONI PIZZA

Smaller than it appears on the outside of the box, Waitrose's pepperoni pizza is pretty average

Smaller than it appears on the outside of the box, Waitrose's pepperoni pizza is pretty average

Waitrose — Stonebaked and hand-stretched (385g)

PRICE: £4.50

TASTE: Smaller than it appears on the outside of the box, this is a pretty average pizza. The sprinkling of parsley on top is a nice touch, but the meat itself tastes bland and processed.

M&S — ‘The American’ hand-stretched and stonebaked (440g)

PRICE: £4

TASTE: The base is thin and crisp, the toppings are generous and the pepperoni is spicy. The cheese is spread right to the edges, too.

Winner: M&S. It’s cheaper, bigger and tastes like an authentic Italian pizza.

 

CRISPS

Waitrose win: They're better value and taste more like posh nibbles than mass-produced snacks

Waitrose win: They're better value and taste more like posh nibbles than mass-produced snacks

Waitrose — Essential salted tortilla chips (200g)

PRICE: 95p

TASTE: There’s a generous portion of crisps in the bag, and they’re not too greasy. In fact, they’re incredibly moreish — before I know it, I’ve scoffed the lot.

M&S — Lightly salted tortilla chips (175g)

PRICE: £1

TASTE: This is a smaller serving, and to my disappointment lots of the crisps in the bag are crushed. They are saltier than the others, and after a few mouthfuls I’m craving a drink.

Winner: Waitrose. Not only are they better value, but they taste more like posh nibbles than mass-produced snacks.

 

ROAST MEAL FOR ONE

For a roast dinner that's ready in 20 minutes the Waitrose meal is hard to beat. The M&S portion is significantly smaller

For a roast dinner that's ready in 20 minutes the Waitrose meal is hard to beat. The M&S portion is significantly smaller

Waitrose — Classic beef dinner (390g)

PRICE: £4.50

TASTE: For a roast dinner that’s ready in 20 minutes, this is hard to beat. The meat is succulent, the potatoes are golden and fluffy, and there’s even a Yorkshire pudding.

M&S — Roast beef mini-meal (250g)

PRICE: £2.70

TASTE: This takes 20 minutes to cook in the oven, or just three minutes in the microwave. But the portion is significantly smaller than the Waitrose offering, and it tastes like a bad school dinner.

Winner: Waitrose. You get what you pay for — the M&S meal is soggy and bland.

 

VEGETARIAN

From M&S' new 'Plant Kitchen' range their lasagne is tasty, indulgent and healthy

From M&S' new 'Plant Kitchen' range their lasagne is tasty, indulgent and healthy

Waitrose — Italian roasted vegetable lasagne (400g)

PRICE: £2.75

TASTE: Made from spinach pasta, vegetables, tomato and a creamy cheese sauce, this is a good lasagne. However, it could do with more seasoning. It also comes in a recyclable tray.

M&S — Plant Kitchen lasagne

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